Hospital association calls rating system ‘flawed’

Two Ballad Health hospitals have received a one star out of five stars rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Those hospitals were Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport and Johnson City Medical Center.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) said CMS’ "flawed approach" to star ratings provides an inaccurate, misleading picture of hospital quality.

"That is why a majority of Congress urged CMS to delay the reporting of star ratings, and why the AHA and others have repeatedly urged CMS to suspend the reporting of overall star ratings until the methodology is improved," AHA said on its website. "As constructed, the star ratings fall short of meeting principles that the AHA has embraced for quality report cards and rating systems."

In a statement, Ballad Health agreed with AHA.

“The CMS Star system tends to give low scores to large hospitals that treat high populations of patients with more severe and complex conditions and also serve a greater percentage of Medicare, Medicaid and uninsured patients,” the statement noted. “These factors make it more difficult to prevent readmissions and may result in higher mortality rates. Further, the current CMS hospital ratings are based on years-old data — much of it dating to 2015, before the creation of Ballad Health. The fact is the quality of care provided by Ballad Health hospitals is exemplary and getting even better.”

CMS rated 15 hospitals within the Johnson City area.

As for other Ballad Health hospitals, Franklin Woods Community Hospital in Johnson City got a four-star rating; Indian Path Community Hospital in Kingsport and Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon received a three-star rating; and Bristol Regional Medical Center a two-star rating.

CMS noted the ratings are subject to change.

CMS' so-called "Hospital Compare" overall hospital rating summarizes a variety of measures — as few as nine or as many as 51 — across seven areas of quality into a single star rating for each hospital. The average is about 37 measures.

A rating for the Mountain Home VA hospital was not available.