Feds vow scrutiny, but systems look for legal ways to help low-income patients pay premiums

The feds have vowed to cast a critical eye on hospitals that provide money to help low-income patients buy insurance through an exchange, but they didn't ban the practice outright. Experts say scores of health systems are going to be looking for legal ways to do it, and many may turn to independent charities and foundations for help.

The CMS is concerned that hospitals' financial help could lead to too many sick people who need immediate care being added to insurance companies' risk pools, which is why the agency urged insurers not to accept hospitals' payments (PDF) on behalf of patients. However, the document stopped short of calling the practice illegal.“It says they discourage it. But who cares? It's not prohibited. We are a society of laws, and you certainly can do things that are in your best interest,” said Kevin McAnaney, a Washington healthcare regulatory lawyer who formerly worked in HHS' watchdog office. He wrote official advisory opinions on anti-fraud laws when HHS' Office of the Inspector General started issuing them in 1997.

Follow Joe Carlson on Twitter: @MHJCarlson


Loading Comments Loading comments...