Medicare to Cut Payments for Hospital Mistakes

Some local seniors question a Medicare move that cuts payments to hospitals for preventable ills.  Some seniors we spoke with have heard of the Medicare plan to cancel payments for mistakes that happen in the hospital.

That includes falls, bedsores, and other ailments Medicare considers preventable. Those seniors tell us what matters to them is that they don't get stuck with the bill. At 79, Nita Albright says Medicare coverage made all the difference in her last hospital stay. I was very well pleased, because I was in the hospital for two weeks and that is a large sum of money, said Albright.  But if she ends up in the hospital again after October first, there's a handful of conditions Medicare will no longer cover. That includes ailments from urinary tract and bloodstream infections linked to catheters, to other conditions Medicare considers avoidable.

I don't think that person should be responsible for it, somebody needs to be responsible, but not the person, said Albright. A Medicare spokesman insists patients won't be responsible, but the hospital will. A Northwest Texas Hospital spokeswoman insists her team is ready. I can't think of one on the list that does not have something already in place as a preventative measure, said Louise Anderson, Director of Quality. Medicare estimates hospital mistakes raise bills anywhere from ten to a hundred thousand dollars per patient.

We're told those are savings that could help keep Albright's premiums from big increases in the future. A BSA hospital spokeswoman says caregivers there are also ready for the change, pointing out the hospital has previously earned a high national ranking for patient safety. The change takes effect October first.