Florida Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Medicare releases new star-based ratings for hospitals


What hospital to go to? You will get more help with your decision now. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has just released its new rankings for 3,617 hospitals nationwide.

Originally scheduled for earlier this year, the release was postponed due to objections from the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals and other industry groups. The groups allege that the evaluation measures are too crude and do not adequately account for differences in hospitals with respect to communities served, the fact that large teaching hospitals disproportionately serve patients with the most complex medical problems, etc. “The star rating system is an irresponsible slap in the face to America’s most essential hospitals, those hospitals that take in the sickest patients, that can never turn people away,” says Dr. Eric Dickson, Chief Executive of UMass Memorial Health Care.

CMS has fired back, saying that its rankings provide the public with a valuable tool, and that any flaws in the ratings system will be addressed going forward. The CMS ratings are based on a scale of one to five stars, similar to the system the government uses to evaluate nursing homes and home health agencies. Stars are awarded based on a variety of factors, including readmission, mortality and infection rates, and overall patient experience.

Only two Florida hospitals, the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and Sarasota Memorial Hospital, received 5 stars. Eighteen Florida hospitals received 4 stars; 76 earned 3; 61 earned 2; and 13 earned 1.

Nationwide, only 102 hospitals (3%) received 5 stars. Forty-eight percent received 3 stars. Four percent received 1 star. Surprisingly, some well-known teaching hospitals, rated highly by sources such as U.S. News and World Report, did not score in the top tier.

Click here to access the Medicare Hospital Compare tool.