"Lawsuits, state inspections and federal statistics paint a troubling picture of the care offered at some hospitals," writes The New York Times in an investigation of long-term care hospitals that dominates the front page.
The Times focuses on the Select Medical Corporation, "a publicly traded Pennsylvania company that runs 89 long-term hospitals, more than any other company," but also points out that "more than 400 similar facilities ... have opened nationally in the last 25 years. Few of them have doctors on staff, and most are owned by for-profit companies."
"In 2007 and 2008, Select's hospitals were cited at a rate almost four times that of regular hospitals for serious violations of Medicare rules, according to an analysis by The New York Times. Other long-term care hospitals were cited at a rate about twice that of regular hospitals." The rapid growth in the number of these facilities is "driven by Medicare rules that offer high payments for hospitals that treat patients for an average of 25 days or more. Long-term care hospitals now treat about 200,000 patients a year, including 130,000 Medicare patients — at a projected cost of $4.8 billion to the government this year, up from $400 million in 1993." The Times' package includes hospital inspection reports, charts and analysis (Berenson, 2/9).