Poorer hospitals may suffer from Medicare changes

Reuters.com: By Genevra Pittman, NEW YORK | Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:40pm EDT

Under upcoming changes in Medicare and Medicaid payment policies, hospitals largely treating the poor and uninsured may be hit extra hard if patients continue to rate their experiences there lower than at other hospitals, according to a new study.

So-called safety-net hospitals take in a lot of patients on government insurance – which doesn’t pay as much for services as private insurance – or without any insurance at all, leaving them often under financial stress and struggling to stay open, researchers said.Edit This Post

Under the Affordable Care Act, a small proportion of Medicare and Medicaid funding going to hospitals will be determined by performance measures, including how patients rate their experiences there.

That’s not a bad idea in general, said Dr. Ashish Jha from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, who worked on the study. But, he added, “We don’t actually know how the safety net is going to fare under those payment changes.” Read more