WASHINGTON Medicare will stop paying the costs of treating infections, falls, objects left in surgical patients and other things that happen in hospitals that could have been prevented.
Hospitals in the future will be expected to pick up the cost of additional treatment required by a preventable condition acquired in the hospital.
“The hospital cannot bill the beneficiary for any charges associated with the hospital-acquired complication,” the final rules say.
The rule change announced this month is among several initiatives that the agency says are intended to improve the accuracy of Medicare’s payment for hospital patients who receive acute care and to encourage hospitals to improve the quality of their services.
“Medicare payments for inpatient services will be more accurate and better reflect the severity of the patient’s condition,” Herb Kuhn, the acting deputy commissioner of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it also would work to add three more conditions next year to the eight already on the list next year.
Last year, Mark McClellan, then director of the Medicare and Medicare programs, said the government could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year if the Medicare program stopped paying for medical errors such as operations on the wrong body part or mismatched blood transfusions.
Medicare provides coverage for about 43 million elderly and disabled people. The Medicare program’s expenses totaled about $408 billion in 2006; costs are expected to rise rapidly in coming years.
What Medicare won’t pay for
Eight conditions Medicare no longer will pay for:
Objects left in a patient during surgery; blood incompatibility; air embolism; falls; mediastinitis, which is an infection after heart surgery; urinary tract infections from using catheters; pressure ulcers, or bed sores; and vascular infections from using catheters.