KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospitals Warn Of Lost Jobs, Patient Services After Proposed Payment Changes

Changes in how hospitals are paid make news in Minnesota -- where the state's largest health plan will delay a new payment system -- and Maryland -- where hospitals say a cut in pay to them will mean fewer jobs and patient services.

MPR News: Blue Cross Blue Shield Delays Start Of Controversial Payment System
Minnesota's largest health plan will delay the start of controversial payment system for hospitals until Jan. 1. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota were criticized last week by a Minnesota hospital trade group accusing the health plan of slashing payments to rural hospitals. Blue Cross now said it is adjusting the start date for the new payment system in response to "operational and financial planning challenges" of critical access hospitals, which are located in rural areas (Stawicki, 5/1).

Baltimore Sun: Md. Hospitals Say Rate Vote Means Job Cuts
Maryland hospitals said they will need to cut jobs and patient services after a state panel voted Wednesday to keep hospital rates flat, despite a 2 percent cut in Medicare payments required by federal sequestration. ... The 6-1 vote by the Health Services Cost Review Commission, which sets the state's hospital rates, effectively forces the hospitals to absorb the cut in Medicare reimbursement at a time when hospital margins are razor-thin. Hospital representatives who filled a hearing room to lobby for a rate increase criticized the decision, saying it will further hurt the already financially strapped industry (Walker, 5/1). 

In the meantime, health industry payments to doctors are further scrutinized in Massachusetts --

Boston Globe: 1 In 4 Mass. Physicians Received Industry Gift Or Payments
One in four physicians in Massachusetts received at least one gift or payment from pharmaceutical or medical device companies valued at $50 or more in the two and a half years after the state began tracking them. The most common gifts were food, while the most lucrative were payments for speaking engagements, consulting or other services, according to an analysis by a Harvard-led research group published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine. Between July 2009 and December 2011, industry paid for 14,251 physician meals worth $2.4 million, and made 8,432 payments to doctors for bona fide services totaling $67.3 million (Conaboy, 5/1). 

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