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Star Ratings’ Release Unfortunate and Counterproductive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Statement attributable to:
Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH
President and CEO
America’s Essential Hospitals

WASHINGTON, DC – We are disappointed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) chose to publicly release overall hospital star ratings today, when so many questions remain about the data behind the ratings and their value to consumers.

The ratings disadvantage hospitals that care for vulnerable patients and underserved communities and threaten to confuse, rather than inform, consumers as they make important health care decisions. Congress shares these concerns: Nearly 300 House and Senate lawmakers have called on CMS to go back to the drawing board.

Essential hospitals are committed to quality improvement and transparency, and support empowering patients and families with useful and relevant information. But the current star ratings are not the way to do this. Health care is not a toaster or a television – it is far too complex and personal to reduce to a five-point scale or letter grade.

The star ratings exist partially in a black box, incorporate measures that miss clinically relevant data, and fail to adjust for patient circumstances that influence health and health care outcomes – circumstances outside a hospital’s control. The evidence for this is clear.

Consumers deserve accurate, comprehensive, and relevant information to make health care decisions. Hospitals deserve to be evaluated on a level playing field. The star ratings accomplish neither. We urge CMS to work with hospitals and independent experts to revise the star ratings to correct shortcomings in its methodology and to immediately share all its data, so hospitals can confirm the agency’s calculations.

Because ratings systems like this can vary widely in their findings for the same hospital, we also urge consumers to consult multiple sources of information when choosing a hospital, including physician guidance on their individual care plan and safety and quality data from their state.

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About America’s Essential Hospitals
America’s Essential Hospitals is the leading association and champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to high-quality care for all, including the most vulnerable. Since 1981, America’s Essential Hospitals has initiated, advanced, and preserved programs and policies that help these hospitals ensure access to care. We support members with advocacy, policy development, research, and education.

Our nearly 275 members are vital to their communities, providing primary care through trauma care, disaster response, health professional training, research, public health programs, and other services. They innovate and adapt to lead the broader health care community toward more effective and efficient care.

Contact:
Carl Graziano
cgraziano@essentialhospitals.org
202-585-0102

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