Medicaid to Stop Paying for Hospital Mistakes

Medicaid will stop paying for about two dozen “never events” in hospitals, such as operations on the wrong body part and certain surgical-site infections, federal officials said today. Currently, about 21 states have such a nonpayment policy. The 2010 federal health law, in effect, expands the ban nationwide. The rule published today gives states until July 2012 to implement it.  Medicaid is a joint state-federal program for the poor and disabled. Under the rule, Medicaid funds can’t be used to pay doctors and hospitals for services that “result from certain preventable health care-acquired illnesses or injuries,” the officials said. A similar regulation has been in place for Medicare, the federal health program for the elderly, since 2008. “These steps will encourage health professionals and hospitals to reduce preventable infections, and eliminate serious medical errors,” said Donald Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “As we reduce the frequency of these conditions, we will improve care for patients and bring down costs at the same time.”

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