Medicaid cuts continue for University Health over patient complications, infections

Medicaid cuts continue for University Health over patient complications, infections

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - For the third year in a row, University Health Shreveport has made the federal government's list of the worst-performing hospitals when it comes to patient injuries and complications.

Under the Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction Program, hospitals ranking in the lowest quarter (above the 75th percentile) will lose 1 percent of Medicare payments from October 2016 to September 2017.

It was created under the ACA to give hospitals incentive to curb patient injuries and complications.

This is the first year the HAC score has taken the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs in the form of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff) into account, basing 85 percent of the score on rates of these infections, as well as those from surgeries, urinary tract catheters and central line tubes. The formula also takes into account the frequency of bed sores, hip fractures, blood clots and four other complications.

New emphasis on infections reflects a serious concern about the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates already infect more than two million people, resulting in approximately 23,000 deaths annually.

According to a recent report by Kaiser Health News, the penalties come as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also launches new requirements for hospitals to ensure that the use of antibiotics is limited to cases where they are necessary and be circumspect in determining which of the drugs are most likely to work for a given infection.

In all, the federal government will cut Medicare payments by 1 percent to 769 hospitals under the program in 2017 for having high rates of hospital-acquired conditions.

The reductions apply not only to patient stays but also will reduce the amount of money hospitals get to teach medical residents and care for low-income people.

University Health is among the 241 that have made that list every year since the program was instituted in October 2014, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data, compiled here by Keiser Health News.

That news prompted State Senator Greg Tarver to send this letter Tuesday to Governor John Bel Edwards:

It would be greatly appreciated if you would have this matter looked into as soon as possible to ensure those in Louisiana are provided better health care services. It's our responsibility to ensure that constituents, who are concerned with one ailment, don't leave facing a more severe condition due to the infectious environment of the hospital.

Willis Knighton Medical Center was the only other NWLA hospital that has been penalized with Medicare cuts under the HAC Reduction Program in previous years (2015 and 2016), but not in 2017.

Specialized hospitals, such as those that treat psychiatric patients, veterans and children, are exempted from the penalties, as are hospitals with the "critical access" designation for being the only provider in an area. Of the remaining hospitals, the Affordable Care Act requires that Medicare penalize the 25 percent that perform the worst on these measures, even if they have reduced infection rates from previous years.

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