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Senators keep spotlight on CMS star-rating inequities

July 14,2016 08:17

Ahead of the anticipated release of quality ratings for U.S. hospitals, lawmakers signaled Wednesday they expect Medicare officials to address concerns that the system puts providers who serve poor and chronically ill patients at a disadvantage.and more »



Greg Nash

By Sarah Chacko - 07/13/16 05:27 PM EDT

Ahead of the anticipated release of quality ratings for U.S. hospitals, lawmakers signaled Wednesday they expect Medicare officials to address concerns that the system puts providers who serve poor and chronically ill patients at a disadvantage.“The Medicare program’s biggest challenges are not 67-year-old joggers with three Fitbits. They’re people who live two bus stops away from their dialysis appointment and have four or more chronic conditions,” Andrew Slavitt, acting head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing. “We know that’s a harder challenge.”Sen. Bob CaseyBob CaseySenators keep spotlight on CMS star-rating inequities The Trail 2016: Platform Diving Anti-abortion Democrats fire back MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) questioned Slavitt on his plans to address the inequity for providers who care for high populations of low-income patients, reiterating concerns he and other lawmakers from both parties raised to the CMS earlier this year. The agency was expected to publish its hospital ratings in April but decided to delay them after members weighed in.Slavitt pointed to recent work on the Medicare Advantage program to provide higher reimbursement for healthcare providers serving sicker patients. The new Medicare payment law also allows risk adjustments to acknowledge the costs of caring for patients with complex needs, he said. Slavitt said the office of the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation is studying the issue and its report is expected in September, which could provide some guidance on how to address the imbalance in patient populations between providers. “As we learn more and as we understand more how these models work, we’ll be able to do that,” Slavitt said.

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