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Consumers Union Supports Proposed Expansion of Medicare Policy to Withhold Payments to Hospitals That Harm Patients
Date:6/19/2008

Non-Payment Plan Aims to Reduce Preventable Hospital Acquired Infections & Medical Errors

WASHINGTON, June 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The federal government should expand its effort to restrict Medicare payments to hospitals for the cost of health care associated with certain infections and medical errors acquired during treatment, according to Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) adopted new rules that will end payments to hospitals for the extra care required to treat patients harmed by certain preventable hospital acquired conditions. Now the agency has proposed expanding the list of preventable conditions covered by the non-payment rules.

In comments submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Consumers Union said that a proposal by the agency to limit such payments would provide hospitals with a strong new financial incentive to improve patient care. Consumers Union urged CMS to strengthen the proposed regulations by expanding the types of preventable hospital acquired conditions that would result in lower Medicare payments and to clarify protections to ensure patients are treated fairly and get the care they need.

"By restricting payment for preventable medical errors and hospital acquired infections, Medicare is sending a powerful message to hospitals that harming patients will harm their bottom line," said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union's Stop Hospital Infection's campaign (http://www.StopHospitalInfections.org). "This effort will ultimately save money and lives by motivating hospitals to follow long-standing patient safety practices that are too often ignored."

The nonpayment rules adopted by CMS last year cover certain urinary tract infections, staph aureaus bloodstream infections, and four other hospital errors unrelated to
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SOURCE Consumers Union
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