Home health star ratings may start in July

July is the target for the start of the publication of star ratings on the Home Health Compare website, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Home health agencies will have the chance to see their ratings several weeks before they are posted in case any errors need to be corrected, CMS says.

The agency is accepting comments on its proposal through Feb. 13.

The Home Health Compare website was launched in 2003. Ratings, according to CMS, are being added to help clarify information about home health providers for consumers searching for an agency. The action follows the addition of star ratings to CMS’ Nursing Home Compare site in 2008, the recent addtion of ratings to its Physician Compare website, and the planned 2015 inclusion of ratings on the Dialysis Facility Compare and Hospital Compare sites. CMS says the star ratings help it meet the Affordable Care Act’s goal of making publicly reported information transparent and easy to understand.

All home health agencies that have been certified by Medicare for at least six months will be eligible to receive a star rating. To have a measure reported on Home Health Compare, an agency must have submitted measure data on at least 20 complete quality episodes in the past 12 months. Complete quality episodes are defined as home health episodes with a paired start or resumption of care OASIS assessment. The episodes must have a discharge date within the 12-month reporting period, regardless of the admission date.

Ratings will be updated quarterly. Ones published in July will reflect OASIS data from January to December 2014 and claims data from October 2013 to September 2014. These are the same data that will be published, per usual, on Home Health Compare in April.

To have a final Home Health Compare star rating, agencies must be able to report data for at least six of the 10 proposed quality measures (of a total of 27 measures reported on the site):

  • Process measures: Timely initiative of care, drug education on all medications provided to patient/caregiver, influenza immunization received for current flu season, and Pneumococcal vaccine ever received.
  • Outcome measures: Improvement in ambulation, bed transferring, bathing, pain interfering with activity, or dyspnea, as well as acute care hospitalization. (Outcome measures are risk-adjusted based on the evaluation of significant predictors.)

CMS may add or change the measures included in the ratings at some point. CMS also is developing a star ratings methodology for home health-related Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems data, which will not be included in the first round of star ratings but could be combined with quality measure data in the future.

CMS has published background information, information about quality measures and answers to frequently asked questions on its website.

Topics: Medicare/Medicaid