American Kidney Fund Denounces CMS' New 'Five Star Rating System' for Dialysis Facilities


ROCKVILLE, MD (Jan. 26) -- The American Kidney Fund (AKF) today denounced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) recently released “five star rating system” for the nation’s dialysis centers.

“There are more than 430,000 people in this country who have kidney failure and who rely on dialysis to survive, and it is critically important for them to trust that the centers where they have three-times-weekly treatment are facilities that provide high-quality care,” AKF president and CEO LaVarne A. Burton stated. “Patients need a reliable and objective way to compare the quality of dialysis centers so they may make informed decisions about where to receive care. The five-star rating system that CMS has added to its Dialysis Facility Compare website is not the answer.”

The system provides a rating of one to five stars to a dialysis facility based on nine quality measures. The system unfairly categorizes many facilities as low-performers, in large part because the system ranks all dialysis facilities on a bell curve, a methodology forcing some facilities into the lowest 1- or 2- star ratings even when these facilities may, in reality, provide excellent care.

“The practical result of CMS implementing this poorly designed rating system is that many of our nation’s dialysis patients are going to be confused, and in many cases needlessly alarmed, by ratings erroneously indicating that the facilities where they receive treatment are sub-par,” said Burton. “Living with kidney failure is already enormously stressful. Patients deserve a more reliable and accurate way to judge the quality of dialysis facilities than the system CMS has launched.”

“AKF, our fellow patient advocacy organizations and the entire renal community worked tirelessly in 2014 to convey to CMS our serious concerns with the five-star rating system. We are deeply disappointed that CMS moved ahead with a system that will unfairly categorize many facilities,” Burton added.

AKF will closely monitor patient responses to the five-star rating system, and will work with other organizations in the renal community to continue communicating concerns and recommendations for improvement to CMS.

For more information about the American Kidney Fund, visit