Half Of Massachusetts Hospitals Waive Fees For 'Never Events'

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Thirty-three of 61 hospitals in Massachusetts have voluntarily adopted policies that waive fees for 28 "never events," such as wrong-site surgery and harmful medication errors, and other hospitals said they intend to do so in the future, according to a recent survey by The Leapfrog Group, the Boston Globe reports. According to the Globe, the fee waivers come "amid growing resistance from government and health insurers to paying for poor outcomes."

Despite the waivers, consumer groups, health insurers, state lawmakers and employers "are pushing for more far-reaching and mandatory policies as ways to reduce errors, and hospital executives said they expect to forgo payments in an increasing number of cases," the Globe reports. However, physicians and hospital executives say they cannot always agree on what constitutes a never event or what costs should be waived if one occurs.

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Walter Ettinger, president of UMass Memorial Medical Center, which charges for medical errors, said, "Most people don't want to have these complications and infections," but "hospitals and doctors should be paid fairly for their services." Ettinger added, "Some people get up and go to the bathroom and fall even though they're told they shouldn't get up. A better way is for hospitals to have to reduce these (bad outcomes) to a very low level."

State Sen. Richard Moore (D), who has introduced legislation that would prohibit hospitals from charging for never events, said, "Why should we pay for something that a hospital has allowed, through lack of action or lack of adequate personnel, to happen under their watch?" (Kowalczyk, Boston Globe, 9/17).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives. 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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