CMS has awarded an $800 million contract to “assist CMS in developing, testing, refining, revising, maintaining, implementing, and publically reporting quality healthcare-specific measures.” The duties assigned to the contractors include the responsibility for collecting and evaluating public comments on the agency’s Hospital Compare star ratings project.
Because CMS never receives the comments, only summaries prepared by the contractors, the comments are not covered by the Federal Records Act. CMS is preventing public inspection of the public comments since the comments are not being made public and are not subject to FOIA. The result is that public oversight of the contractors and CMS’s development of the star ratings is being quashed.
The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness is establishing a “shadow docket” of public comments on the star ratings. CRE’s comments to CMS’s contractors are available here. We will be posting comments of other stakeholders who provide their comments to CRE. To have your organization’s comments posted, please contact CRE using the link here.