Study: Medicare Payment Adjustments Could Take Toll On Safety Net Hospitals

A change in Medicare hospital payments, which is based on quality and scheduled to kick in this October, could add to the financial problems faced by facilities that treat largely the poor and uninsured.    

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Safety Net Hospitals Could Lose Money In Medicare Changes, Study Warns
When Medicare begins adjusting hospital payments in October based on quality, one of the primary metrics will be patient experience ratings that cover everything from the communication skills of doctors and nurses to their promptness in responding to complaints about pain. A new study finds that this change may add to the financial troubles of safety net hospitals, which primarily serve poor patients (Rau, 7/16). 

Reuters: Poorer Hospitals May Suffer From Medicare Changes
Under upcoming changes in Medicare and Medicaid payment policies, hospitals largely treating the poor and uninsured may be hit extra hard if patients continue to rate their experiences there lower than at other hospitals, according to a new study. So-called safety-net hospitals take in a lot of patients on government insurance -- which doesn't pay as much for services as private insurance -- or without any insurance at all, leaving them often under financial stress and struggling to stay open, researchers said (Pittman, 7/16).

Modern Healthcare: Value-Based Purchasing Program Could Sock Safety Net Facilities: Study
The CMS' fast-approaching value-based purchasing program could spell trouble for financially strapped safety net hospitals, whose patient-experience scores tend to lag behind those of other hospitals, according to a study published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The program, set to begin Oct. 1, will link a portion of hospitals' payment update to performance on a set of 12 clinical quality measures and a composite measure of patient experience (McKinney, 7/16).

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