Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) introduced a bill that would place a moratorium on new long-term acute-care hospitals until federal officials address questions about the hospitals' clinical necessity, rapid growth and Medicare payments. At issue is whether such hospitals are "cash cows" for for-profit companies or "truly adding value" to the healthcare system, Stark said in a news release. Long-term, acute-care hospitals are the most costly post-acute setting reimbursed by Medicare, and their number has tripled to about 300 nationwide in the past 10 years. Medicare expenditures for long-term, acute-care are expected to reach $2.3 billion in 2005 from $398 million in 1993. Frank Morgan, a healthcare analyst at Jefferies & Co., said he believes the proposed legislation will fail in Congress. Morgan said the issues surrounding long-term acute care have been identified and are being studied by government agencies "with no adverse findings expected." -- by Julie Piotrowski
Bill would limit long-term acute-care hospitals
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