Seeking to reassure hospitals that it's generally all right to give discounts to the uninsured, the CMS as well as HHS' office of the investigator general held an open-door forum today to reiterate some guidance to providers on the issue. Late last year, the AHA wrote HHS saying that rules said that offering discounts to the uninsured violated federal statutes, which HHS refuted. In the forum -- meant to be a general question-and-answer session -- officials said that unless discounts are provided as an incentive to drum up federal healthcare business, offering discounts to the uninsured and underinsured and waiving hospital copayments for Medicare recipients are allowed as long as full charges are reported on cost reports. Officials said also courtesy discounts such as those given to members of the clergy and across-the-board discounts for all uninsured patients are generally allowed. Hospitals can also give discounts for medical indigents but must have documented medical indigent policies for Medicare and non-Medicare beneficiaries. -- by Tony Fong
CMS-HHS forum OKs discounts for the uninsured
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