The Subpar Bonus
The federal government paid out hospital performance bonuses to hundreds of hospitals for delivering subpar care to patients, Kaiser Health News’ Jordan Rau reports.
“The 231 hospitals the study identified had below average scores on quality measures but were awarded the bonuses because caring for their patients during their stays and in the 30 days following their discharge cost Medicare less than what it cost at half of hospitals evaluated in the program,” Kaiser Health News explains.
There’s no suprise as to the main culprit: the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program.
“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, began measuring cost in October 2014 to encourage hospitals to provide care in the most efficient way possible… Under this formula, hospitals with Medicare spending below the median hospital were able to qualify for bonuses even though their quality measures were below the median, the study found.”
Value-based frameworks encourage this type of outcome — where a patient’s health is sacrificed in favor of cost-cutting. Patients expect this same outcome if CMS is allowed to impose its value framework in treatment decisions.
$302 Million Profit by Non-Profit Hospital
Hospitals that are classified as “non-profits” still manage to collect big profits. That’s the finding of a new report, which found that non-profit hospitals are making hundreds of millions of dollars from patient care.
The Washington Post notes that “seven of the top 10 most profitable hospitals in the United States are nonprofit facilities that each netted more than $150 million from caring for patients in 2013.” According to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Washington and Lee University, the profits from patient-care services were staggering:
- $302.5 million in profit: Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin
- $225 million in profit: Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California
- $184.5 million in profit: University of Pennsylvania’s hospital in Philadelphia
“Most hospitals lose money, but there are a few very profitable ones and we need to pay attention to why they are making so much” and how it affects consumers, lead author Gerard Anderson, a Hopkins health policy professor, told the Post.
These staggering numbers don’t “include profits that hospitals earn from other activities, such as donations, investments, parking fees, rental space and sales from gift shops, which often are used to subsidize patient care.”
State Spotlight: South Dakota Nursing Homes
The United States Justice Department says that thousands of patients in South Dakota have been forced into nursing homes and long-term care facilities unnecessarily.
“In a scathing rebuke of the state’s health care system, the Justice Department said on Monday that thousands of patients were being held unnecessarily in sterile, highly restrictive group homes. That is discrimination, it said, making South Dakota the latest target of a federal effort to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities and mental illnesses, outlined in a Supreme Court decision 17 years ago,” the New York Times reports.
Every patient should receive the treatment that is right for them. Yet, in South Dakota, some patients have been denied their choice out of expediency.
- A 45-year-old South Dakota man with diabetes told Justice Department investigators that he wished he could be at home with his wife and daughter, but was in a nursing home because he needed help moving around his house on one leg.
- A 73-year-old man in a wheelchair told investigators that he was in a nursing home against his will. “Some of these places are warehouses,” he said, according to the report.
“These are real issues that more and more people are going to be confronting with our graying population,” Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s top civil rights lawyer, told the Times.
Event: May 12th Support Cervical Cancer Survivors
Join us in supporting cervical cancer patients.
On Thursday, May 12, we’ll be supporting, “Stirrup Stories: Narratives Beyond the Speculum” in Washington DC at the historic Howard Theatre. The evening will include a benefit performance, reception, dinner and dancing — with proceeds going toward cervical cancer survivors.
A variety of women creatively performing experiences with their gynecologic health through: storytelling, comedy, poetry, art, spoken word, monologues, etc. It promises to be an amazing evening.
For more information, visit their event page here.