CMS remains positive about Five-Star rating system despite criticism from attorneys general

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CMS Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera
CMS Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services responded to a letter from 31 of the nation's state attorneys general who criticized the nursing home Five-Star Quality Rating System. In a statement, the agency expressed support for the highly controversial rating system for nursing homes, according to a news report.

The ranking system is "a valuable resource to consumers who are making decisions about their care," CMS Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera said in a Sept. 1 statement to the Bureau of National Affairs. She added that the system went into effect with input from nursing homes. The goal of the rating system is both to provide consumers with a straightforward assessment of nursing homes and to challenge facilities to constantly improve, she said. The 31 state attorneys general challenged the system in an Aug. 20 letter to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. They called it misleading and asked that the program be suspended and revised.

Consumer group NCCNHR (formerly the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform) weighed in on the debate as well. It said the attorneys general letter was part of an "industry-led campaign to eliminate an important consumer information source."  NCCNHR Executive Director Sarah F. Wells called an attorneys general proposal calling for all nursing homes to be evaluated by a national standard "naïve," BNA reported.