Feds Cut Cash for Local Hospitals with High Infection Rates

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A new federal program will penalize dozens of local hospitals where patients get too many infections and suffer other avoidable medical problems.

Part of the Affordable Care Act is a focus on "pay for performance," which includes incentives to providers for improving treatment, and penalties for problems that endanger patients and increase healthcare costs.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has scored all hospitals across the country for Hospital-Acquired Conditions on a scale of zero to 10. The 25 percent of institutions with HAC rates above seven are likely to be penalized.

The preliminary list, which was compiled through a collaboration with Kaiser Health News, includes 40 facilities in the metro area. On it are St. Luke's-Roosevelt, Lenox Hill and Hackensack University. Several hospital networks had more than one facility on the list, including the Health and Hospitals Corporation (New York City's public hospital system), North Shore-LIJ and Montefiore.

Regulators are evaluating hopsitals on infections from catheters and central lines and other "serious complications" that include blood clots, bedsores and accidental cuts and tears.

Final scores are expected in the coming months.

Starting Oct. 1, hospitals with HAC scores above seven will lose one percent of every Medicare payment — a revenue hit that could hurt hospitals struggling to break even. 

“Whenever information like this is released, we are already aware of it and have been working aggressively to improve it," said Karen Nelson, a vice president at North Shore-LIJ.

A spokewoman for the Health and Hospitals Corporation said officials were in the process of verifying the HAC scores.

"HHC has a very robust patient safety and quality improvement program, and we have been particularly successful in reducing hospital acquired infection across our 11-hospital system over the last several years," said Ana Marengo. "We are committed to further improvements to deliver safe and high quality care to all our patients." 

A spokeswoman at Montefiore said in an emailed statement, "At Montefiore, we are always focused on quality and preventing potential hospital-acquired infections. We work tirelessly with the full strength of our team to improve the quality and safety of the care we provide."