(a) Definitions. In this subpart the following terms have the meanings:
Absolute percentage cap is a cap applied to non-CAHPS measures that are on a 0 to 100 scale that restricts movement of the current year's measure-threshold-specific cut point to no more than the stated percentage as compared to the prior year's cut point.
CAHPS refers to a comprehensive and evolving family of surveys that ask consumers and patients to evaluate the interpersonal aspects of health care. CAHPS surveys probe those aspects of care for which consumers and patients are the best or only source of information, as well as those that consumers and patients have identified as being important. CAHPS initially stood for the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study, but as the products have evolved beyond health plans the acronym now stands for Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems.
Case-mix adjustment means an adjustment to the measure score made prior to the score being converted into a Star Rating to take into account certain enrollee characteristics that are not under the control of the plan. For example age, education, chronic medical conditions, and functional health status that may be related to the enrollee's survey responses.
Categorical Adjustment Index (CAI) means the factor that is added to or subtracted from an overall or summary Star Rating (or both) to adjust for the average within-contract (or within-plan as applicable) disparity in performance associated with the percentages of beneficiaries who are dually eligible for Medicare and enrolled in Medicaid, beneficiaries who receive a Low Income Subsidy, or have disability status in that contract (or plan as applicable).
Clustering refers to a variety of techniques used to partition data into distinct groups such that the observations within a group are as similar as possible to each other, and as dissimilar as possible to observations in any other group. Clustering of the measure-specific scores means that gaps that exist within the distribution of the scores are identified to create groups (clusters) that are then used to identify the four cut points resulting in the creation of five levels (one for each Star Rating), such that the scores in the same Star Rating level are as similar as possible and the scores in different Star Rating levels are as different as possible. Technically, the variance in measure scores is separated into within-cluster and between-cluster sum of squares components. The clusters reflect the groupings of numeric value scores that minimize the variance of scores within the clusters. The Star Ratings levels are assigned to the clusters that minimize the within-cluster sum of squares. The cut points for star assignments are derived from the range of measure scores per cluster, and the star levels associated with each cluster are determined by ordering the means of the clusters.
Consolidation means when an MA organization that has at least two contracts for health and/or drug services of the same plan type under the same parent organization in a year combines multiple contracts into a single contract for the start of the subsequent contract year.
Consumed contract means a contract that will no longer exist after a contract year's end as a result of a consolidation.
Cut point cap is a restriction on the change in the amount of movement a measure-threshold-specific cut point can make as compared to the prior year's measure-threshold-specific cut point. A cut point cap can restrict upward movement, downward movement, or both.
Display page means the CMS website on which certain measures and scores are publicly available for informational purposes; the measures that are presented on the display page are not used in assigning Part C and D Star Ratings.
Domain rating means the rating that groups measures together by dimensions of care.
Dual-eligible (DE) means a beneficiary who is enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.
Guardrail is a bidirectional cap that restricts both upward and downward movement of a measure-threshold-specific cut point for the current year's measure-level Star Ratings as compared to the prior year's measure-threshold-specific cut point.
HEDIS is the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set which is a widely used set of performance measures in the managed care industry, developed and maintained by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). HEDIS data include clinical measures assessing the effectiveness of care, access/availability measures, and service use measures.
Highest rating means the overall rating for MA-PDs, the Part C summary rating for MA-only contracts, and the Part D summary rating for PDPs.
Highly-rated contract means a contract that has 4 or more stars for its highest rating when calculated without the improvement measures and with all applicable adjustments (CAI and the reward factor).
HOS means the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey which is the first patient reported outcomes measure that was used in Medicare managed care. The goal of the Medicare HOS program is to gather valid, reliable, and clinically meaningful health status data in the Medicare Advantage (MA) program for use in quality improvement activities, pay for performance, program oversight, public reporting, and improving health. All managed care organizations with MA contracts must participate.
Low income subsidy (LIS) means the subsidy that a beneficiary receives to help pay for prescription drug coverage (see § 423.34 of this chapter for definition of a low-income subsidy eligible individual).
Mean resampling refers to a technique where measure-specific scores for the current year's Star Ratings are randomly separated into 10 equal-sized groups. The hierarchal clustering algorithm is done 10 times, each time leaving one of the 10 groups out. By leaving out one of the 10 groups for each run, 9 of the 10 groups, which is 90 percent of the applicable measure scores, are used for each run of the clustering algorithm. The method results in 10 sets of measure-specific cut points. The mean cut point for each threshold per measure is calculated using the 10 values.
Measurement period means the period for which data are collected for a measure or the performance period that a measures covers.
Measure score means the numeric value of the measure or an assigned `missing data' message.
Measure star means the measure's numeric value is converted to a Star Rating. It is displayed to the nearest whole star, using a 1-5 star scale.
Overall rating means a global rating that summarizes the quality and performance for the types of services offered across all unique Part C and Part D measures.
Part C summary rating means a global rating that summarizes the health plan quality and performance on Part C measures.
Part D summary rating means a global rating that summarizes prescription drug plan quality and performance on Part D measures.
Plan benefit package (PBP) means a set of benefits for a defined MA or PDP service area. The PBP is submitted by Part D plan sponsors and MA organizations to CMS for benefit analysis, bidding, marketing, and beneficiary communication purposes.
Reliability means a measure of the fraction of the variation among the observed measure values that is due to real differences in quality (“signal”) rather than random variation (“noise”); it is reflected on a scale from 0 (all differences in plan performance measure scores are due to measurement error) to 1 (the difference in plan performance scores is attributable to real differences in performance).
Restricted range is the difference between the maximum and minimum measure score values using the prior year measure scores excluding outer fence outliers (first quartile −3*Interquartile Range (IQR) and third quartile + 3*IQR).
Restricted range cap is a cap applied to non-CAHPS measures that restricts movement of the current year's measure-threshold-specific cut point to no more than the stated percentage of the restricted range of a measure calculated using the prior year's measure score distribution.
Reward factor means a rating-specific factor added to the contract's summary or overall ratings (or both) if a contract has both high and stable relative performance.
Statistical significance assesses how likely differences observed in performance are due to random chance alone under the assumption that plans are actually performing the same.
Surviving contract means the contact that will still exist under a consolidation, and all of the beneficiaries enrolled in the consumed contract(s) are moved to the surviving contracts.
Traditional rounding rules mean that the last digit in a value will be rounded. If rounding to a whole number, look at the digit in the first decimal place. If the digit in the first decimal place is 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4, then the value should be rounded down by deleting the digit in the first decimal place. If the digit in the first decimal place is 5 or greater, then the value should be rounded up by 1 and the digit in the first decimal place deleted.
Tukey outer fence outliers are measure scores that are below a certain point (first quartile−3.0 × (third quartile−first quartile)) or above a certain point (third quartile + 3.0 × (third quartile−first quartile)).
(b) Contract ratings -
(1) General. CMS calculates an overall Star Rating, Part C summary rating, and Part D summary rating for each MA-PD contract, and a Part C summary rating for each MA-only contract using the 5-star rating system described in this subpart. Measures are assigned stars at the contract level and weighted in accordance with § 422.166(a). Domain ratings are the unweighted mean of the individual measure ratings under the topic area in accordance with § 422.166(b). Summary ratings are the weighted mean of the individual measure ratings for Part C or Part D in accordance with § 422.166(c), with both the reward factor and CAI applied as applicable, as described in § 422.166(f). Overall Star Ratings are calculated by using the weighted mean of the individual measure ratings in accordance with § 422.166(d) with both the reward factor and CAI applied as applicable, as described in § 422.166(f).
(2) Plan benefit packages. All plan benefit packages (PBPs) offered under an MA contract have the same overall and/or summary Star Ratings as the contract under which the PBP is offered by the MA organization. Data from all the PBPs offered under a contract are used to calculate the measure and domain ratings for the contract except for Special Needs Plan (SNP)-specific measures collected at the PBP level; a contract level score for such measures is calculated using an enrollment-weighted mean of the PBP scores and enrollment reported as part of the measure specification in each PBP.
(3) Contract consolidations.
(i) In the case of contract consolidations involving two or more contracts for health or drug services of the same plan type under the same parent organization, CMS assigns Star Ratings for the first and second years following the consolidation based on the enrollment-weighted mean of the measure scores of the surviving and consumed contract(s) as provided in paragraph (b)(3)(iv) of this section. Paragraph (b)(3)(iii) of this section is applied to subsequent years that are not addressed in paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section for assigning the QBP rating.
(ii) For the first year after a consolidation, CMS will determine the QBP status of a contract using the enrollment-weighted means (using traditional rounding rules) of what would have been the QBP Ratings of the surviving and consumed contracts based on the contract enrollment in November of the year the preliminary QBP ratings were released in the Health Plan Management System (HPMS).
(iii) In subsequent years following the first year after the consolidation, CMS will determine QBP status based on the consolidated entity's Star Ratings displayed on Medicare Plan Finder.
(iv) The Star Ratings posted on Medicare Plan Finder for contracts that consolidate are as follows:
(1) For the first year after consolidation, CMS uses enrollment-weighted measure scores using the July enrollment of the measurement period of the consumed and surviving contracts for all measures, except survey-based measures and call center measures. The survey-based measures would use enrollment of the surviving and consumed contracts at the time the sample is pulled for the rating year. The call center measures would use average enrollment during the study period.
(2) For contract consolidations approved on or after January 1, 2022, if a measure score for a consumed or surviving contract is missing due to a data integrity issue as described in § 422.164(g)(1)(i) and (ii), CMS assigns a score of zero for the missing measure score in the calculation of the enrollment-weighted measure score.
(1) For the second year after consolidation, CMS uses the enrollment-weighted measure scores using the July enrollment of the measurement year of the consumed and surviving contracts for all measures except for HEDIS, CAHPS, and HOS. HEDIS and HOS measure data are scored as reported. CMS ensures that the CAHPS survey sample includes enrollees in the sample frame from both the surviving and consumed contracts.
(2) For contract consolidations approved on or after January 1, 2022, for all measures except HEDIS, CAHPS, and HOS if a measure score for a consumed or surviving contract is missing due to a data integrity issue as described in § 422.164(g)(1)(i) and (ii), CMS assigns a score of zero for the missing measure score in the calculation of the enrollment-weighted measure score.
(v) This provision governing the Star Ratings of surviving contracts is applicable to contract consolidations that are approved on or after January 1, 2019.
(4) Quality bonus payment ratings.
(i) For contracts that receive a numeric Star Rating, the final quality bonus payment (QBP) rating for the contract is released in April of each year for the following contract year. The QBP rating is the contract's highest rating from the Star Ratings published by CMS in October of the calendar year that is 2 years before the contract year to which the QBP rating applies.
(ii) The contract QBP rating is applied to each plan benefit package offered under the contract.
(c) Data sources.
(1) CMS bases Part C Star Ratings on the type of data specified in section 1852(e) of the Act and on CMS administrative data. Part C Star Ratings measures reflect structure, process, and outcome indices of quality. This includes information of the following types: Clinical data, beneficiary experiences, changes in physical and mental health, benefit administration information and CMS administrative data. Data underlying Star Ratings measures may include survey data, data separately collected and used in oversight of MA plans' compliance with MA requirements, data submitted by plans, and CMS administrative data.
(2) MA organizations are required to collect, analyze, and report data that permit measurement of health outcomes and other indices of quality. MA organizations must provide unbiased, accurate, and complete quality data described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section to CMS on a timely basis as requested by CMS.