The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is responding to the chaos of the  COVID-19 pandemic by proposing to hide from the public a rating that lets consumers compare hospitals’ safety records and to waive approximately $350 million in financial penalties for roughly 750 hospitals with the worst patient-safety track records.

CMS’ chief medical officer, Dr. Lee Fleisher, said those safety metrics were not designed to properly account for how a pandemic, with its patient surges and workforce shortages, might affect hospital systems.

“Safety, transparency, and quality of care of patients is not enhanced by the use of skewed or inaccurate data, and, in fact, could result in negative consequences for patients,” he said. “CMS wants the public to have complete trust in the data and will make data on quality available when we have a high confidence in its credibility and accuracy.”

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