CMS penalizes 758 hospitals under HAC program

Payment cuts of 1 percent are significant because Medicare accounts for a significant share of hospital revenue.

The one percent annual payment reduction will spare CMS around $364 million. Crouse was also penalized previous year.

Meanwhile, some patient safety advocates have said the program's penalties are too small to truly compel hospitals to improve quality (Kaiser Health News, 12/10). These included accreditation by the Joint Commission, the presence of the most extensive types of trauma centers, and having more nurses per patient.

The penalty, in its second year, is part of the Affordable Care Act's punishment-and-reward system created to keep down unnecessary medical spending and control health care costs.

"So, it's not that tying payment to performance improvement is a bad thing, I don't think anybody argues that".

The law exempts hospitals that serve veterans and children, and those that are the only healthcare providers in a particular area. Medicare also penalizes hospitals for excessive readmissions, and pays bonuses for patient satisfaction and other performance measures. "My concern is the measures stay strong or even be strengthened".

The CMS program has not been without controversy; a study published in June suggested the most frequently penalized facilities offer high-quality care, indicating the outcomes may simply be the results of hospitals that search more diligently for HACs being likely to find more, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Nonetheless, Medicare payments to most hospitals continue to be based primarily on the number and nature of the services they conduct, a system that health care experts say encourages hospitals to perform more procedures and focus on complex-and lucrative-ones.

As 758 hospitals are docked for patient safety incidents, hospitals state that the sanctions are unfair for targeting institutions that have made progress, albeit not sufficient. "Taking the money away, all you've done is to make it harder for hospitals to function". However, the average Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI) SIR chalked a slight increase from 1.13 in FY15 to 1.17 in FY16.

Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall and Kalamazoo's Borgess Medical Center are listed by the federal government as two of 24 MI hospitals to be penalized for rates of hospital-acquired conditions.

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