CMS Announces Patient Survey Star Ratings for Home Health

Starting in January 2016, the government will post a new type of star rating for Medicare-certified home health agencies, reflecting how well they have performed in the eyes of their patients.

The “Patient Survey Star Ratings” will be based on data from the Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HHCAHPS) Survey, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced in a website posting Monday.

CMS also in the process of rolling out home health star ratings based on OASIS assessments and claims data. Going forward, the agency will refer to these as the “Quality of Patient Care Star Rating,” to distinguish them from the new Patient Survey ratings.

The Patient Survey ratings have been developed in response to stakeholder input, CMS noted in its website post. The agency has scheduled a Special Open Door Forum for Thursday, at which officials will provide more information about how the ratings will be calculated and how stars will be assigned.

Home health agencies have expressed concerns about the Quality of Patient Care ratings, which are scheduled to be published on the Home Health Compare website for the first time in July. One provider worry is that consumers will not understand that the ratings are distributed on a bell curve, so that a three-star rating means that an agency provides care that is comparable to most other agencies in the country—not that it is meeting a pre-set, immovable standard for “average” care.

Written by Tim Mullaney