CMS Launches Rating System on Home Health Compare Website

July 17, 2015 in News

On Thursday, CMS released its first five-star quality ratings on its Home Health Compare website, Health Data Management reports.

Background on Home Health Compare

Home Health Compare is the most recent transparency site launched by CMS. The new ratings make it the sixth star-rating system to be implemented on the Medicare website under the Obama administration.

According to Health Data Management, CMS will update the ratings quarterly as more current data become available. Further, CMS in January 2016 will introduce additional star ratings for patient satisfaction based on responses to the Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey.

Quality Rating Details

The new rating system offers a star rating based on home health agencies’ performance on nine of 29 quality measures posted on Home Health Compare, which are determined based on Medicare claims and patient assessments conducted by the agencies (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 7/17). The ratings were based on performance data from fall 2013 through 2014.

In total, Medicare awarded five-star ratings to 239 of the 12,261 eligible home health agencies. Meanwhile:

  • 2,218 home health agencies received four or 4.5 stars;
  • 4,274 home health agencies received three or 3.5 stars;
  • 2,427 home health agencies received two or 2.5 stars; and
  • 201 home health agencies received one or 1.5 stars.

CMS did not assign star ratings to 2,902 agencies because they:

  • Did not have enough patients to evaluate;
  • Failed to provide enough data; or
  • Recently opened for business.

According to a KHN analysis of the data, ratings varied by type of provider. For example:

  • Home health agencies operating out of skilled nursing facilities and those run or paid for by local governments tended to receive lower scores; and
  • Visiting nurses associations and agencies with religious affiliations tended to receive higher ratings (Rau, Kaiser Health News, 7/16).

Patrick Conway, acting principal deputy administrator for CMS, said, “Adding star ratings to Home Health Compare is another step forward in our continuing efforts to empower consumers by providing more information to help them make health care decisions, while also encouraging providers to strive for higher levels of quality” (Health Data Management, 7/17).

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