CMS Delays Dialysis Center Five-Star Rating System

Published by Modern Healthcare
Sabriya Rice
September 10, 2014

The federal government will wait until January to roll out its five-star rating system meant to help consumers compare quality at dialysis centers and is reevaluating the timeline for extending it to hospitals and home care providers.

Use of the system on the CMS’ dialysis centers compare website had been scheduled for October, but was met with angst by dialysis providers who questioned the methodology and said the program was likely to be more confusing than helpful.

In response, the federal agency announced Wednesday that it has moved the date by about three months.

The CMS began using the rating program on nursing homes in December 2008 and earlier this year applied a similar rubric to physician groups. In July, the agency announced plans to extend the program to dialysis facilities starting Oct. 9.

In e-mail to Modern Healthcare, a CMS official said it has notified stakeholders (PDF) that it plans to delay the rating program for dialysis facilities until January to allow additional time for consumer education about appropriate use of the ratings, give dialysis facilities extra time to review their ratings, and to fine-tune the verification and correction processes, according to the notification.

The CMS says it will host consumer educational activities before launching the ratings, including an open-door forum, informational sessions and direct outreach.

The CMS also had planned to extend the star ratings to hospitals and home-care providers this winter. A spokesperson said the agency is looking at the release dates for all sites to make sure enough time is allowed for feedback, input and education.

Kidney Care Partners—coalition that includes dialysis providers, patient advocates, physicians, nurses and manufacturers—responded saying the delay is not enough. There is no indication CMS plans to correct flaws and other serious concerns raised by patient advocates, physician and nursing organizations, dialysis providers, the groups said in a statement.

“No amount of patient education will fix what’s broken in the Dialysis Five-Star Program,” the groups wrote. “Instead of simply changing the implementation date, CMS should start over and develop a rating system that is based on accurate data and an evidence-based methodology.”

The agency announced its intent to use the ratings during a national provider call in July. Dialysis providers immediately cited issues with the preliminary methodology outlined. Some argued the end-stage renal disease quality incentive program and Medicare’s survey process already assess the factors, and the additional program would generate conflicting results.

See the original article here.