Washington Post reports on a health care battle between a hospital and insurers
that is leaving patients caught in the middle. At Bayonne Medical Center in New
Jersey, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield delivered letters to patients at the
hospital "warning that the patient would face a huge hospital bill if he
did not leave right away." The hospital turned the couriers away.
"The hardball tactics being used to pry patients from their sickbeds
illustrate the colliding financial interests that pervade U.S. health care. It
is a tug of war over where patients are treated, who decides how much care they
receive and, fundamentally, which parts of the health-care industry gain or
lose when people become ill."
battle playing out in Bayonne has particular relevance as Congress tries to
rewrite the rules that govern health care nationwide - with hospitals,
insurers, doctors and other stakeholders descending on Capitol Hill to angle
for advantage." The health reform bills pending in Congress "would
shift the system's balance of power that has evolved over decades," but
the Bayonne battle "also hints at the limits of what federal health-care
changes would accomplish; none of the bills would legislate away the specific
business practices that have escalated into a full-scale brawl between the
city's only hospital and New Jersey's largest health insurer, Horizon Blue
Cross Blue Shield" (Goldstein, 10/9).
Indianapolis Star reports on a Bloomington Hospital, which has a low
readmission rate for heart attack patients. "Only 11 hospitals in the U.S.
have a lower readmission rate for heart attack patients than Bloomington
Hospital, according to a Medicare review of 4,400 hospitals' records from 2005
"The federal government thinks that if more
hospitals are like those facilities, patient care would improve and taxpayer
money would be saved. One in five Medicare patients returns to the hospital
within a month of being discharged, according to the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services, which released hospitals' readmission rates this
summer." The health care reform bills being considered in Congress would
address the problem by reducing "Medicare payments to hospitals with high
readmission rates. ... The hospital industry has agreed to the readmission
reimbursement penalty as part of its commitment to accept $155 billion in cuts
over the next decade, its share of the cost of providing health coverage to
more Americans" (Groppe 10/9).
Source: Kaiser Health News