The University of Kansas Hospital and Truman Medical Center are both receiving one percent penalties for their Medicare reimbursements. They are among 751 hospitals below standards for decreasing the number of preventable complications in low-income areas. Both hospitals have been subjected to this penalty for four consecutive years as part of Obamacare. Hospitals are assessed by the federal centers for Medicaid and Medicare insurance, This is based on complications including injuries such as hip fractures and bed sores and infections. Hospitals scoring in the bottom 25 percent are penalized.
The program has received criticism since it began because it affected low-income and teaching hospitals in a disproportionate manner. The current penalty list included prominent medical centers including California’s Stanford Health Care, Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital and New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital.
As the CEO for Truman Medical Center, Charlie Shields believes there are already socioeconomic strikes against any low-income patient with a complex condition. This makes them more likely to succumb to the type of conditions hospitals are being penalized for by the federal government. He does not believe consumers can have confidence in a system affecting the most vulnerable individuals, and requiring them to be above the safety net.
As quality and safety’s Vice President for the University of Kansas Health System, Tim Williamson stated KU is always trying to lower the conditions requiring hospitalization. He believes in the intent of the program but says it is fatally flawed. He added the program often used two-year old data so recent improvements are not taken into consideration. For more details, please visit KansasCity.com.
Williamson mentioned KU was given high marks by other evaluations including Leapfrog, World Report magazine and the U.S. News. KU and Truman are among seven Kansas hospitals, and an additional nine in Missouri receiving the penalty in the current year. The only other Kansas City metro facility is an outpatient surgical facility located in Overland Park. Any comment by the Blue Valley Hospital was declined.
Topeka’s St. Francis Hospital is also being penalized, and they were purchased in a partnership this year between a private health care company and KU. The penalty is retroactive, and begins during the start of the federal fiscal year. This means all medical resident payments and patient stays from October will be assessed through September 2018. The amounts are dependent on the number of Medicare patients serviced by the hospital, and the specific services involved.