KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospitals See New Revenues, Stiffer Fines From Obamacare

A surge in insured patients using health services has increased hospital revenues, even as Medicare stiffens penalties for facilities with high readmission rates or patients who contract infections and injuries while admitted for other reasons.

The Wall Street Journal: Hospitals Cash In On The Newly Insured
A rush of newly insured patients using health services has boosted hospital operators' fortunes but has racked up costs that insurers didn't anticipate, corporate filings and interviews with executives show. People are getting more back surgeries, seeking maternity care and showing up at emergency rooms more frequently, executives say, boosting income for hospital operators (Weaver, 8/4).

The Hill: O-Care Rule Docks Poorly Performing Hospitals
Regulations issued Monday under the Affordable Care Act aim to crack down on hospitals with high readmission rates and records of patients acquiring new conditions after they’ve been admitted for something else. Implementation of ObamaCare’s Hospital Acquired Condition Reduction Program is among several provisions of a final rule updating the Medicare payment schedule for general acute care and long-term care hospitals in fiscal 2015. Under the rule, hospitals with the highest rates of hospital-acquired conditions would see their Medicare inpatient payments cut by one percent (Goad, 8/4).

Bloomberg: Medicare Reduces Payments For 2015 Hospital Re-admissions
Medicare, the U.S. program for the elderly and disabled, said payments for hospital admissions would fall $756 million next year as penalties stiffen for patients who return too early. Payments for inpatient services at about 3,400 acute-care hospitals will be cut about 0.6 percent in 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a regulatory filing, including reductions in funding for hospitals who provide care for many low-income patients, those with too many patients who contract infections while admitted and higher penalties for readmissions within 30 days. The Obama administration has applauded reduced Medicare spending for hospital admissions, a trend encouraged by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that has added 13 years to the life of Medicare’s key trust fund. The program’s actuaries have warned the payment cuts may not be sustainable as hospitals struggle to improve their efficiency (Wayne, 8/4). 

Earlier, related KHN coverage: More Than 750 Hospitals Face Medicare Crackdown On Patient Injuries (Rau, 6/22).

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