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RID Applauds Medicare's New Payment Rule, Urges New York and All States to Follow

NEW YORK, Oct. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID) commends Medicare, the government health plan for the elderly and people with disabilities, on its bold new policy. Starting today, Medicare will not pay the extra costs of treating certain preventable hospital-acquired infections and medical errors.

The public needs to know that Medicare's policy bars hospitals from billing patients for what Medicare won't pay.

"The new Medicare rules give the public huge financial clout to demand safer, infection-free care," says Dr. Betsy McCaughey, Chairman and Founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. "We have worked for four years to make these changes possible."

Astoundingly, many states refuse to follow Medicare's example. New York's Medicaid program for low-income patients, for example, will continue to pay for treating infections deemed "never events" by the federal government. That policy removes an incentive for hospitals to be careful, pushes up costs, and puts patients at risk.

"Medicaid should not be paying hospitals for preventable infections. If you take your car in for an oil change, and they dent the fender, you don't pay for that repair, the garage does," says McCaughey. "The same principal applies. Hospitals should have to absorb the cost of treating errors and infections they caused. Don't bill taxpayers and don't bill patients either."

Hospitals will not lower infection rates until their biggest customers, Medicare and Medicaid, demand it.

-- Hospital infections kill more people every year than AIDS, breast

cancer, and auto accidents combined.

-- In 1974, 2 percent of Staph infections were antibiotic-resistant. By

1995, the number had climbed to 22 percent, in 2003 an alarming 64

percent, and now even higher.

-- Hospital infections add an estimated $30.5 billion to the nation's

hospital costs each year.

Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D., is a former Lieutenant Governor of New York State and the Founder and Chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths

SOURCE Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths
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