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CMS Retires Hospital Compare; No Star Ratings Update in Jan.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Dec. 1 will retire its original Hospital Compare tools. The agency encourages users to visit Medicare.gov’s new Care Compare tool to find and compare health care providers.

CMS in early September launched Care Compare, which streamlines eight original health care comparison tools, including those for physicians, hospitals, and nursing homes, among other settings.

Star Ratings Update Canceled

CMS will not update the overall hospital quality star ratings in January 2021 to allow time to review public comment and finalize methodology proposals in the calendar year 2021 Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment System proposed rule. CMS expects to post the final rule later this year.

The National Quality Forum (NQF) published an issue brief summarizing deliberations from a September reconvening of NQF’s Hospital Quality Star Rating Summit, in which America’s Essential Hospitals participated. The multistakeholder panel provided input on CMS’ proposed updates to the star ratings program and additional considerations.

Hospital Compare Scheduled Refreshes

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, CMS has provided flexibility across quality programs for quality measure reporting and data submission deadlines. Specifically, CMS will not use data from Jan. 1 through June 30 in quality reporting or value-based payment programs.

The agency will not publicly report data collected during first and second quarter 2020. As a result, measures that are normally refreshed quarterly will not be refreshed for the first and second refresh after the affected quarters. Quarterly refreshed measures will resume their quarterly updates once third quarter 2020 data is due to be publicly reported. For example, the health care–associated infection measures will not be refreshed in January or April 2021, and will refresh next in July 2021.

Annually refreshed measures will continue to publicly report updated data during their regularly scheduled refreshes. Questions to CMS can be sent via the QualityNet Question and Answer Tool.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Maryellen Guinan is a principal policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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