KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

60 Minutes: HMA Pressures Doctors To Admit Patients, Defrauding Medicare

The CBS newsmagazine reported that it interviewed more than 100 current and former employees of Health Management Associates (HMA), who said they were pressured to admit patients, whether they needed hospital care or not, to increase revenues.

CBS 60 Minutes: Hospitals: The Cost Of Admissions
[I]t's estimated that $210 billion a year -- about 10 percent of all health expenditures -- goes towards unnecessary tests and treatments and a big chunk of that comes right out of the pockets of American taxpayers in the form of Medicare and Medicaid payments. For more than a year, we have been looking into the admission and billing practices of Health Management Associates. It's the fourth largest for-profit hospital chain in the country with revenues of $5.8 billion last year ... We talked to more than 100 current and former employees and we heard a similar story over and over: that HMA relentlessly pressured its doctors to admit more and more patients -- regardless of medical need -- in order to increase revenues (Kroft, 12/2).

Modern Healthcare: HMA Exec Says Physicians 'Grossly Mischaracterized' Admissions Management
Physicians interviewed for a "60 Minutes" investigation into Health Management Associates' admissions practices "grossly mischaracterized" what goes on at the for-profit hospital chain's facilities, a top executive for the company said after the segment aired Sunday. Alan Levine, senior vice president at HMA and president of its Florida group, said some of the doctors who spoke to reporter Steve Croft had reasons for doing so, including ongoing litigation with the company. ...[Levine said] the core issue is not about inpatient admission goals or quotas, but rather about the challenge hospitals face in managing patients between observation stays and inpatient admissions (Zigmond, 12/2).

Reuters: Health Management Shares Fall Ahead Of "60 Minutes" Segment
Shares in Health Management Associates Inc fell nearly 3 percent on Friday ahead of a "60 Minutes" television segment on the hospital chain's admissions practices ... The Naples, Florida-based hospital company, which operates 70 hospitals in 15 states, said in a statement on its website that it retained "third-party experts" to examine admissions data for individual hospitals and across the company. "The data simply do not support the allegations," it wrote (Humer, 11/30).

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