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Health News Florida

39 Florida Hospitals Penalized With Medicare Cuts

Doctor holding a stethascope.
Thirty-nine Florida hospitals were penalized with Medicare cuts.

39 Florida hospitals will get less money from Medicare this year because their patients had high rates of infections or other complications.

They include some of the state’s most recognized safety-net hospitals, which serve residents with little or no health insurance.

Tampa General Hospital made the list for the fifth year in a row, as did Jackson Memorial in Miami and UF Health Jacksonville.

The hospitals will receive 1 percent less from the federal government in Medicare reimbursements.

They were penalized because they fell into the bottom quarter of hospitals in the state for preventing complications like blood clots, infections, hip fractures and bedsores.

Though some hospitals debate the rating’s fairness, Florida Hospital Association President Bruce Rueben says the important thing is the facilities are being measured.

“They are measuring themselves but more importantly they are being measured from the outside and that drives improvement,” Rueben said. “So overall this is a good thing.”

The penalties were created by the Affordable Care Act in an effort to reduce complications at hospitals.

Under the act, 146 Florida hospitals also were penalized this year because of their high readmission rates. Medicare can cut up to 3 percent for each patient based on the readmission rate but most hospitals are penalized a fraction of that.

Despite the ratings, Rueben said hospitals in Florida have made tremendous strides in improving quality of care.

His organization has worked with 93 of the state’s hospitals over the past two years. Collectively, they have achieved an 11 percent reduction in harm and a 5 percent reduction in Medicare readmissions, he said.

“These hospitals in Florida, just like hospitals around the country, are getting together to improve clinical performance,” Rueben said. “And they’ve done a really great job.”

Under the patient safety penalties, one quarter of all hospitals in Florida will always be penalized no matter how much they have improved because they are compared to each other.  

That could put hospitals that serve sicker patients or patients from lower income areas who do not have access to primary care at a disadvantage, Rueben said.

“But rather than get into all of the technical reasons why hospitals would criticize the ratings, it’s better to look at it as one more tool that people can use to determine where they should go for the best quality care,” he said.

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