Earlier this year the federal government lowered Medicare payments to 751 hospitals (find the list here) as a penalty for high rates of patient injuries. According to the Washington Post, more than half of the hospitals on the list also ended up on government’s list last year. The Affordable Care Act created the penalty system and it went into effect four years ago. Healthcare specialists say the program is designed as a financial incentive for hospitals to avoid infections and other mishaps, such as blood clots and bed sores.
Teaching hospitals again received a large share of the penalties, although the number of teaching hospitals on the list went down. A Kaiser Health News analysis of the penalties found that about one in three teaching hospitals were punished this year. According to Medicare.gov almost half of the nation’s teaching hospitals received penalties according to Medicare.gov.
The 115 penalized teaching hospitals this year include Denver Health Medical Center, Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Stanford Health Care hospitals in California and the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. Stanford Health Care released a statement that said,
“Academic medical centers serve patients with more-complex conditions who are at greater risk of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) compared to community health care providers. Hospitals with a high rate of immunocompromised patients will always seem to have higher HAIs.”
NPR found that hospitals that treat large proportions of low-income people were also fined more often than hospitals with a more affluent patient base. About a third of those hospitals were penalized, roughly the same as last year.
The patient-injury penalties have proved controversial. The hospital industry casts them as unfairly punishing hospitals that treat sicker patients and that do a better job of identifying infections and other patient complications. Patient advocates say that, while not perfect, the penalties have proven a valuable incentive to make hospitals seriously look at the issue of patient injuries.
According to the Washington Post, 23 percent of ll hospitals evaluated were penalized and penalized hospitals will lose 1 percent of Medicare funding for the fiscal year ending in 2018. The state of Delaware and Washington, D.C., were the localities with the highest percentage of hospitals penalized (nearly 50 percent).
Check here to see if your local hospital is on the list.