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Rating Medicare Providers

Government plan based on inspections, consumer surveys

If you're trying to figure out which nursing home is best or which doctor provides the finest care, or even what other medical services are on the market, the Bush administration announced a new program yesterday that may help you out.

The Washington Post reports that the Health Care Financing Administration will issue quarterly ratings for every Medicare provider based on six criteria. The general public will be able to get the scores via the Internet, through a toll-free phone number or in newspaper advertisements, the story says.

The scores will be based on surveys of consumers as well as inspections performed by the federal government. Things to be looked at will include medical credentials and the amount of staff at facilities.

While the Post says consumer groups welcome the plan, groups representing health-care providers are wary. They say the criteria do not consider factors that might make one facility look worse than another, such as a facility that treats sicker patients.

To find out more about the HCFA, the agency that administers Medicare, click here. And visit the American Hospital Association for its perspective on health-care issues.

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