Senators push for hospital ratings delay

Medical University Hospital is expected to receive two out of five stars in an upcoming federal hospital rating. Information for other hospitals has not been made public. Many U.S. senators want the government to delay the release of this information.

Sixty U.S. senators, including both from South Carolina, signed a letter earlier this week urging the federal government to delay the release of new hospital ratings.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is expected to publish overall ratings for hospitals this month. Hospitals will be graded on a 5-point scale.

In their letter, the lawmakers argued the star ratings may mislead the public.

“While we support the public reporting of provider quality data, we are concerned that the current Star Ratings system may not accurately take into account hospitals that treat patients with low socioeconomic status or multiple complex chronic conditions,” the senators wrote.

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, both South Carolina Republicans, signed the letter.

Dr. Danielle Scheurer, chief quality officer at the Medical University of South Carolina, informed MUSC’s Board of Trustees in February that she expected the hospital to receive two out of five stars.

Star ratings for other Charleston-area hospitals have not been made public.

Scheurer said MUSC’s 30-day readmission rates and patient safety scores drove the hospital’s rating. She pointed out that some of the information used to calculate MUSC’s rating wasn’t up to date.

The star ratings also consider patient satisfaction surveys and mortality data, among other factors.

The federal government has not indicated it will delay the release of this information.

The ratings will be published online at medicare.gov/hospitalcompare.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 843-937-5598.