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New Health Care Law: Consumers Winners, Hospitals Possible Losers

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 14-Jul-2010

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

As part of the major health care law recently passed, consumers are considered winners for the most part.  However, hospitals are concerned that the financial penalties that may be imposed on them could create financial problems.  Some of the provisions that are of greatest concern for hospitals include:

  • "In 2012, Medicare will stop paying hospitals for preventable readmissions tied to health conditions such as heart failure or pneumonia. In 2014, HHS will expand that policy to cover four additional health conditions.
  • Beginning in 2012, hospitals will be paid commensurate to their performance scores for patient satisfaction and care quality tied to treatment of conditions such as heart failure, pneumonia and hospital-borne infections.
  • In 2015, HHS will start reporting each hospital’s record for medical errors and infections pertaining to Medicare patients. Medicare will reduce its payments by 1 percent to hospitals with the highest rate of medical errors and infections. The government will also no longer pay hospitals for treatment when a Medicaid patient is harmed during a hospital stay."

As summarized in a recent article in CNNMoney.com, "Industry watchers and consumer advocates say the measures were sorely needed and will go a long way to protect patients and enhance efficiency in the system."   According to a representative of  Consumers Union Safe Patient Project, "These measures put us on a path to improving care because when you change their payment structure, the behavior in hospitals improves."

For its part, hospitals’ main trade group, the American Hospital Association (AHA), said it is supportive of some provisions but concerned about others.

"The penalties are intended to send a strong message from Congress that they want hospitals to be efficient and keep patients safe," said Nancy Foster, AHA’s vice president of quality and patient safety. "That’s exactly what our members are working hard to do."

Nearly 100,000 people are killed every year as a reslt of medical errors.  That’s like two 747 planes crashing to the ground every day.  Patient safety must be promoted.  It’s a matter of life and death.

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About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorey by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also acknowledges him as "one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims.  Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine–a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

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