New Medicare Rule Ending Payments For Preventable Errors

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The following summarizes newspaper editorials related to Medicare's new rule -- which took effect last week -- that ends payments to hospitals for additional care resulting from "reasonably preventable" errors.

* Houston Chronicle: Although the new policy is reducing Medicare expenditures by "a small fraction," it is "shifting the focus, both in hospitals and with insurance payers, to rewarding quality, rather than quantity, of care," a Chronicle editorial states. The editorial concludes that "neither patients nor taxpayers should have to pay for treating patients who have been injured by the hospital whose function it was to heal them" (Houston Chronicle, 10/5).

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* Las Vegas Sun: The new rule "should send a strong message to hospitals that they will be held accountable for substandard medical procedures that could have been prevented," a Sun editorial states. By imposing the new rule Congress has recognized the impracticality of hospitals billing federal health care programs for their medical errors, according to the Sun. The editorial concludes that the regulation "should encourage hospitals to make patient safety one of their highest priorities" (Las Vegas Sun, 10/4).

* New York Times: Medicare's new payment policy is a "small but hugely important step in the direction of paying hospitals based on the quality of care they deliver," a Times editorial states, adding, but it "focuses exclusively on hospitals, as directed by Congress, and lets doctors off scot-free." According to the Times, a new proposal seeks to "address that inequity by denying payment to surgeons who operate on the wrong body part or the wrong patient." The editorial concludes, "That is a small but welcome step toward stopping doctors, not just hospitals, from making money off their errors" (New York Times, 10/5).

* Virginian-Pilot: "Change is so scary and foreign in medicine, in fact, that when Medicare makes a common sense decision to not pay hospitals when they make unacceptable mistakes, it is splashed on the front page" of newspapers, the editorial states. It concludes, "What America needs, what each patient needs, is a restructuring that goes far beyond a simple decision not to pay hospitals when they make mistakes" (Virginian-Pilot, 10/6).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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