Hospital Compare updated to include new star ratings, HAC payment penalties

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has updated its Hospital Compare website with new star ratings for hospitals across the country, including the release of a list of hospitals receiving Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) penalties for fiscal year 2018.

CMS began to report hospital quality star ratings in July 2016 by combining over 50 measures into a single rating of one to five stars, with five stars being the top rating. The star rating approach and methodology has raised considerable concerns and questions over the accuracy and validity of the process.  Although CMS has taken some corrective action, they have not addressed concerns regarding the appropriateness of the underlying approach.

Along with the star ratings, CMS released a list of hospitals who perform in the lower quartile and will receive a HAC penalty in FY 2018.  The penalty is assessed based on a limited set of infection measures and a patient safety indicator derived from claims information. The American Hospital Association (AHA) and others have challenged the methodology used and the choice of measures which are particularly harsh on both rural hospitals and those serving the most complex patients.

The AHA continues to work with CMS to advance improvements in the star rating program.