Obamacare Could Cost Pennsylvania Hospitals $19 Million


A handful of hospitals in the mid-state face penalties for not meeting requirements set forth by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It could mean higher bills for you.

The new Obamacare standards start in the fall and stand to cost Pennsylvania hospitals $19 million. Based on preliminary numbers, five Central Pa. hospitals are in jeopardy of being penalized.

When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, he created the “Hospital-Acquired Condition Program” – a set of new hospital standards set to take effect October 1.

The program uses a formula to rate hospitals based on infections, blood clots, bed scores and other patient illnesses. The bottom 25 percent of hospitals will be penalized one percent of their Medicare payments. Based on preliminary numbers, these five area hospitals will be penalized:

Ephrata Community Hospital

Chambersburg Hospital

Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

York Memorial Hospital

Waynesboro Hospital

Two of these facilities responded for comment Tuesday.

“When the final numbers come out, we fully expect we won’t be penalized. But, we viewed this as an opportunity to learn and improve our medical practices,” said Brett Marcy with Ephrata Community Hospital.

“The safety of our patients is a top priority. All of the items included in this report are followed very closely. {We have] a task force that reviews all hospital-acquired conditions to find the root cause and determine how we can improve,” added Jessica Walter with Chambersburg Hospital.

“It certainly is going to hinder hospitals because it is only a penalty program. If you’re doing really well, you don’t get paid anything extra.” Martin Ciccocioppo is with the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

Ciccocioppo says this new program is flawed because it punishes hospitals that can least afford it. No matter how much hospitals improve, there will always be a bottom 25 percent to punish. Plus, he said Medicare payments – now – only cover about 95% of a hospital’s cost. To lose more money, could be painful.

“Hospitals are going to be stretched tighter in their ability to invest in services and care for patients,” said Ciccocioppo. “And they’re going to have to find some way to make up for those deficits. A lot of times it falls onto other payers.”

There are 153 hospitals in Pennsylvania, 38 stand to be penalized, which is about 25 percent. Ciccocioppo said that will cost the state $19 million.

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