This week there was some really interesting information about patients, hospitals, rewards, and penalties.
Propublica Communications, a non-government watchdog of financial healthcare issues, reported that increasingly non-profit hospitals were suing low-income patients for not paying their medical bills. These non-profit facilities receive generous tax breaks in exchange for taking care of the patients at no or reduced charge. One non-profit hospital in the St. Louis area which reported $7 million in profits (not a misprint) is so aggressive that they go after patients who are barely above the poverty line. In some cases, the hospital was able to garnish up to 25% of patients’ post-tax pay and charge up to 9% interest on the whole bill. These practices are occurring in many hospitals and now the IRS is starting to look into the issue, potentially revoking their non-profit status….
Now that we are moving into the time when hospitals’ physicians are being held responsible for more than just seeing patients and discharging them here are some interesting items:
- Over 700 hospitals will see their total Medicare payments docked by 1% in fiscal 2015 as part of the first year of a federal program aimed at reducing preventable harm and improving patient safety.
- More hospitals will see a payment bump than a penalty in the coming year under Medicare’s value-based purchasing program according to new federal data on more than 3,000 facilities.
- A CMS announcement that many doctors will see their Medicare payments cut for failing to meet EHR incentive-payment program standards has provoked strong reactions from physician and hospital groups.
- Physicians are being warned to pay close attention to the CMS’ recently released Physician Quality Reporting System deadlines because the 2014 data will be used to calculate future Medicare payments.
This is also the last week that our intern Jennifer Piggot will be with us and she took the incentive to prepare a fantastic summary of a recent review based on science by a wide spectrum advisory board on Why a Low-carb Diet Should Be the First Approach in Diabetes Treatment. If you don’t have time to read the whole article, it will be worth your while to scroll down to the Practice Pearls.
We can make a difference!
Dave Joffe, Editor-in-chief