She spoke before the board of medical licensure Thursday. Anna Wolfe
Eighteen Mississippi hospitals will receive lowered Medicare payments because of high patient injury rates, a penalty created by the Affordable Care Act. Fourteen of those hospitals were also penalized last year.
The 4-year-old program is meant to incentivize providers to avoid injuries resulting from issues like infections, blood clots and bedsores.
The hospitals penalized in Mississippi include the state’s only academic medical center, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Merit Health River Region in Vicksburg and Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian.
Mississippi’s hospitals are just some of the 751 penalized across the country.
“Mississippi hospitals work very hard to ensure that all patients receive quality care,” said Richard Roberson, vice president of policy for the Mississippi Hospital Association, in a statement Friday. “The Mississippi Hospital Association is engaged in a collaborative effort with thirty other state hospital associations to analyze data and help our hospitals improve quality outcomes for our patients. Mississippi ranks at or near the bottom for many diseases and complex conditions. These conditions present not only unique challenges but also opportunities for Mississippi hospitals to continuously improve.”
Academic medical centers are penalized at high rates nationally, Kaiser Health News found, in part because of the vulnerable patients and complex conditions they treat. About one-third of teaching hospitals received the penalty this year versus almost half last year.
“Given the populations served by these hospitals and the complexity of their patients’ conditions, this program gives patients misleading information about some of the nation’s best hospitals and unfairly penalizes these hospitals financially,” said Dr. Michael Henderson, UMMC chief medical officer in an emailed statement Friday.
Safety data from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Henderson notes, is up to 4 years old and doesn’t “reflect our current performance, which has steadily improved with the implementation of a comprehensive set of programs and a lot of hard work by every member of our patient care team.”
In general, the Kaiser analysis found hospitals that treat large low-income populations — or safety net hospitals — were more often penalized. Mississippi has the highest rate of poverty in the nation with more than one in five residents living in poverty. It also has the sixth worst uninsured rate with more than 12 percent lacking health coverage.
According to Kaiser, Medicare will cut its payments to these hospitals by 1 percent, both for patient stays and the funds to teach medical residents and provide care to low-income folks. The cut will last through September.
This comes as Mississippi hospitals are already complaining about not being reimbursed at cost for uncompensated care.
“Hospitals are underpaid by Medicare. Hospitals are underpaid by Medicaid. Medicaid and Medicare represent approximately 70 percent of hospitals volumes,” Memorial Hospital Foundation President Dave Estorge said at a Senate Medicaid Committee hearing earlier this month.
Estorge sits on the Medical Care Advisory Committee, which is studying possible improvements to Medicaid. It recommends no matter what reimbursement model is developed, that each hospital receive no less than the cost of providing uncompensated care or care to folks on Medicaid, which has a low reimbursement rate.
The Leapfrog Group, an independent, nonprofit hospital watchdog, released in October its latest scorecard, which lowered the safety grades for 10 Mississippi hospitals since last spring.
The hospitals that received Ds were: the Merit Health centers in Brandon, Vicksburg, Biloxi and Jackson, Delta Regional Medical Center, Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center and University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Only one hospital, UMMC’s Grenada campus, received an F.
Hospital name, location, whether they received the penalty last year:
Anderson Regional Medical Center South, Meridian, Yes
Baptist Memorial Hospital Desoto, Southaven, Yes
Clay County Medical Center, West Point, No
Delta Regional Medical Center, Greenville, Yes
Forrest General Hospital, Hattiesburg, No
Jasper General Hospital, Bay Springs, Yes
Marion General Hospital, Columbia, Yes
Merit Health Northwest Mississippi, Clarksdale, No
Merit Health River Region, Vicksburg, No
Mississippi Baptist Medical Center, Jackson, Yes
Patients Choice Medical Center, Raleigh, Yes
Rush Foundation Hospital, Meridian, Yes
Sharkey Issaquena Community Hospital, Rolling Fork, Yes
Singing River Hospital, Pascagoula, No
South Central Regional Medical Center, Laurel, Yes
South Sunflower County Hospital, Indianola, Yes
University Of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Yes
Whitfield Medical Surgical Hospital, Whitfield, Yes