Senator calls for Five-Star system investigation

A Pennsylvania senator is calling for the federal government to investigate Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Five-Star Quality Rating System.

In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) asked for the agency conduct an assessment into the Five-Star system's accuracy and reliability. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) joined Casey's push for closer scrutiny. The Five-Star system is part of the CMS' Nursing Home Compare web tool.

Casey specifically asked that the GAO examine the steps CMS takes to make sure the data used in the Five-Star system is reliable and timely, if there are meaningful differences between the star levels and how the number and types of complaints a nursing home receives align with the rating system. Casey's letter also asked what stakeholders see as the strengths and weaknesses of the Five-Star system, and for insights into how residents and their families use the Nursing Home Compare tool. The Five-Star system was rebased earlier this year, with added metrics related to antipsychotic use and adjusted staffing algorithms.

“While we acknowledge recent CMS steps to update the Five-Star ratings and improve nursing home quality on a broader scale, media reports continue to raise questions about the system's integrity,” Casey wrote in the letter. “An inaccurate rating system would put at risk individuals who choose a substandard nursing home based on false or incomplete information.”