BINGHAMTON, N.Y.-Patients who pay their bills at Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital in full by Dec. 30 will receive a 20% discount on their outstanding balance, said Thomas O. Mass, the hospital's chief financial officer and vice president of finance. The discount is being offered to uninsured patients or to patients who have been unable or thus far unwilling to pay the deductible on their insurance, he said. The discount is not being extended to insurance companies or Medicaid and Medicare providers because the amount of reimbursement the hospital receives from those agencies is set by law. "We're trying to clean up our records and allow our self-pay patients a chance to meet their obligations," Mr. Mass said. "We're also recognizing the hard times in the Binghamton area." Lourdes is owed $2 million on 15,000 accounts, Mr. Mass said.-Associated Press
ROCHESTER, N.Y.-The Federal Trade Commission and Internal Revenue Service have cleared the way for a merger of two local healthcare systems' parent organizations into an umbrella corporation, overseeing a system of 1,415 acute-care and long-term-care beds. The deal involves no merger of assets, a spokeswoman said. The new Greater Rochester Health System combines Rochester Health Care and TGH Health System. Rochester Health Care was the parent of Rochester General Hospital and Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, Newark, N.Y. TGH Health System was the parent of Genesee Hospital. The new system was formed to foster a continuum of services in the region.
HARTFORD, Conn.-A federal judge affirmed his decision that state taxes on hospital services cannot be levied against ERISA plans. Two state hospital levies generate $300 million annually to reimburse providers for uncompensated care. U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello ruled in November that the taxes may not be levied for the care of patients in ERISA plans (Nov. 28, p. 8). ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a 1974 federal law that, according to some court rulings, exempts private benefit plans from some cost-shifting mechanisms. In a subsequent motion, the state argued that Judge Covello's ruling should apply only to employees covered by the Connecticut Hospital Association's self-insured plan. The association is the plaintiff in the case. The judge denied the motion, saying all ERISA plans should be exempt from the taxes. Meanwhile, his original ruling is being appealed.