In fact, CMS intends to move to a five star-rating system for all of the sites where it displays quality information for providers, that is all of its "Compare" sites, "with a goal of full transition to star ratings by 2016," CMS public affairs specialist Don McLeod confirmed in an e-mail. Dialysis centers and home health care agencies, too will get stars by 2016.
"It's no big secret, but we are moving slowly and there's no big announcement yet," he wrote.
Of course much about how CMS will apply the five stars remains under wraps. Or is still undecided. So of course I have questions.
For example, will 20% of all hospitals get either one, two, three, four, or five stars, indicating their ranking order, even if a three-star achiever is essentially equivalent to a two-star achiever? Or does CMS intend to set performance thresholds and group hospitals in buckets, depending on their scores?
CMS could say that all hospitals that score below 20% in performance would get the lowest ranking of one star, but if only 10 of the 4,000 hospitals fell into that low poor performer's bucket, only 10 would get one star.