CMS delays new rating system amid industry, political pressure

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services put the brakes on its new hospital quality ratings system just a day before it was to launch. The last-minute delay comes amid growing pressure from Congress and many in the healthcare industry.

The new five-star system aimed to simplify how CMS measures overall hospital quality by combining 62 metrics into a single rating. But earlier this month, 60 senators and 225 members of the House of Representatives signed letters urging CMS to delay releasing the star ratings.

"We have heard from hospitals in our districts that they do not have the necessary data to replicate or evaluate CMS's work to ensure that the methodology is accurate or fair," the letter from the House members said.

On April 20, CMS announced the implementation of the new quality rating system would be delayed until July.

"CMS is committed to working with hospitals and associations to provide further guidance about star ratings," the notice said. "After the star ratings go live in their first iteration, we will refine and improve the site as we work together and gain experience."

Major industry trade groups, which had previously asked CMS for such a delay, welcomed the announcement.

“[T]he delay is a necessary step as hospitals and health systems work with CMS to improve the ratings for patients, and the AHA commends CMS for their decision,” said Rick Pollack, president of the American Hospital Association, in a statement.