Is Medicare Punishing Some Hospitals for Their Diligence?

April 27, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​Some of the most prestigious academic medical centers in the country are being penalized by Medicare for their diligence in identifying healthcare-acquired infections, said an April 20, 2016, article in the New York Times. Nearly half of US academic medical centers are among the 758 hospitals that will have their Medicare payments reduced by 1% for one year for having the highest rates of hospital-acquired infections and potentially avoidable complications. The Times said the average amount of the penalties, which were begun in October 2014, is $480,000, but most academic medical centers will lose much more because of their high revenues. In 2008, Medicare implemented a policy of not reimbursing hospitals for certain healthcare-associated condition, the Times said, but studies have not shown this to lead to substantial decreases in patient harm. Infections and other avoidable complications still occur during 12 of 100 stays, according to a federal estimate, and teaching hospitals tend to have a higher rate of occurrence, said the Times. But many argue that teaching hospitals are not more dangerous than local hospitals, but simply screen patients for problems more aggressively.

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