Baptist Hospitals and Health Systems, Phoenix, will extensively review quality-assurance practices at its four hospitals in exchange for an agreement by federal health officials not to kick one of the hospitals out of Medicare and Medicaid, MODERN HEALTHCARE has learned.
The concession is part of a confidential agreement reached in late December 1998 between not-for-profit Baptist and HCFA. MODERN HEALTHCARE obtained a copy of the nine-page agreement last week under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Baptist's attorney and HCFA officials declined to comment on the terms of the agreement (See chart).
The agreement stems from HCFA's proposed decertification of Baptist's 104-bed Arrowhead Community Hospital and Medical Center in suburban Glendale, Ariz.
HCFA decided to boot Arrowhead out of the two federal insurance programs last year after inspections by the Arizona Department of Health Services turned up more than a dozen quality-related deficiencies (Dec. 7, 1998, p. 26).
HCFA had decertified another Baptist hospital, 182-bed Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City, Ariz., in November 1997. The hospital was recertified in August 1998.
Baptist filed suit in federal court on Dec. 1, 1998, claiming HCFA's decision to decertify Arrowhead was based on flawed information. The court granted the system's motion for a temporary restraining order, which stopped the agency's action. The two sides reached an agreement on Dec. 22, 1998, allowing Arrowhead to keep its Medicare and Medicaid certification. As part of the agreement, Baptist dropped the lawsuit.