Medicare & Medicaid News for Senior Citizens

Medicare & Medicaid News

Medicare has launched new star rating of home health services

Will help seniors stay in homes longer as need for care grows

July 20, 2015 - Medicare has taken another of several steps recently to help seniors stay in their homes longer. The latest is a new rating of home health care services.

Star ratings can help seniors and their care givers more quickly identify differences in quality and make use of the information when selecting a health care provider. In addition to summarizing certain data about Home Health Agency performance for consumers, star ratings can also help the agencies identify areas for improvement.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) new star ratings is on Home Health Compare, CMS’s public information website for Home Health Agencies.

“Adding star ratings to Home Health Compare is another step forward in our continuing efforts to empower consumers by providing more information to help them make health care decisions, while also encouraging providers to strive for higher levels of quality,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, Acting Principal Deputy Administrator for CMS and Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality.


Each Home Health Agency will receive a single summary Quality of Patient Care Star Rating encompassing that agency’s relative performance on 9 of the 29 quality measures already posted on Home Health Compare, including:

  • How often the home health team began their patients’ care in a timely manner.

  • How often the home health team made sure that their patients have received a flu shot for the current flu season.

  • How often the home health team taught patients (or their family caregivers) about their prescribed drugs.

  • How often home health patients got better at walking or moving around.

  • How often home health patients got better at getting in and out of bed.

  • How often home health patients had less pain when moving around.

  • How often home health patients got better at bathing.

  • How often home health patients’ breathing improved.

  • How often home health patients had to be admitted to the hospital.

The measures are calculated using information from patient assessments performed by the HHA and from Medicare claims submitted by the HHA. When calculating patient outcomes, statistical models are used to adjust for differences in the types of patients served by different agencies.

The new Home Health Compare Quality of Patient Care Star Ratings will be updated each quarter as more recent data become available.  In addition, CMS plans to introduce additional star ratings based on a patient experience of care survey (the Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HHCAHPS) instrument) in January 2016.  

It is the sixth star rating system that has been added by the Obama Administration to

Today’s announcement is part of a larger effort at the Department of Health and Human Services  to transform our health care system to deliver better care, spend our dollars in a smarter way, and put patients in the center of their care to keep them healthy.

Our plan to make this vision a reality is to pay providers for what works, unlock health care data, and find new ways to coordinate and integrate care to improve quality. With the Affordable Care Act, we took one of the most important steps toward a more accessible and affordable health care system in almost 50 years. With new tools, we have an opportunity to seize this historic moment to transform our health care system into one that works for the American people.

Star ratings are currently publicly displayed on Nursing Home Compare, Physician Compare, Dialysis Facility Compare, the Medicare Advantage Plan Finder, and Hospital Compare.

Today’s announcement follows a proposal released last week to launch a new Home Health Value Based Purchasing model designed to support greater quality of care among Medicare beneficiaries.

For more information read the CMS Fact Scheet.

For more information about the Home Health Quality of Patient Care Star Ratings, please visit the CMS Home Health Star Ratings web site at:  

Some of this information is reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Related Medicare & Medicaid News from Senior Journal Archives

Medicare's Hospital Compare adds star rating but fails to score with critics

Editor's note: New star rating system gets some hoarse criticism at Kaiser Health News - April 16, 2015

More at Medicare & Medicaid Section Page

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