The nation's largest for-profit hospital company says it will offer income-based discounts to uninsured patients and will set a uniform threshold for providing charity care.
HCA, Nashville, Tenn., says it has submitted a plan to CMS to implement a sliding scale for nonelective care provided to uninsured patients making between 200% and 400% of the federal poverty level, which varies by area of residence.
The company is asking the federal agency to rule on whether the discounts would affect reimbursements for treating Medicare beneficiaries; HCA says the plan is contingent upon a "favorable" decision from CMS.
"Although we currently provide over $2 billion annually in uncompensated care, the growth of the uninsured population clearly warrants these efforts," Chairman and CEO Jack Bovender Jr. says in a written statement. "We believe our proposed program can be implemented within existing regulatory guidelines without affecting our reimbursement for Medicare beneficiaries, and we hope CMS will agree with our interpretation."
Also pending CMS approval, HCA says uninsured patients at or below 200% of the poverty line will be eligible for charity care. About 70% of HCA's 180 hospitals in 22 states currently use this threshold.
"What the policy does is standardize it across the company," spokesperson Ed Fishbough says.