Four major healthcare organizations launched 990forhospitals.org "to promote accurate and standardized reporting to the Internal Revenue Service of hospitals subsidized aid to communities, including free and discounted care. The Healthcare Financial Management Association, the American Health Lawyers Association, the Catholic Health Association and VHA created the Web site as an extension of the 990 Coalition for Hospitals, which the four launched roughly six months ago, said Laura Noble, HFMA director of thought leadership and information services. The IRS overhauled its yearly tax record, the Form 990, for fiscal 2008. Hospitals must give detailed, uniform disclosure, starting in fiscal 2009, of their community benefits and charity care on an attachment to the Form 990. The coalition allows the four organizations to combine their relative expertise as hospitals prepare to comply with the new reporting rules, Noble said.
A broad spending measure that includes a rollback of six out of seven new Medicaid regulations passed the House, giving hospitals and providers respite from a series of rules they said would trim billions of dollars from the program and potentially jeopardize care. The bill would effectively block three White House-backed regulations that would limit payments to safety net facilities, cut funding for graduate education programs and refigure provider taxes that are used to help offset Medicaid expenses. Three other ruleswhich limit funding for rehabilitation services, certain case-management programs and school-based transportationwere also blocked. Overall, the bill is a mixed bag for hospitals. The House did not include a moratorium on a proposed rule that would limit the types of services that could be provided on an outpatient basis. Nor did the legislation curtail another CMS directive that restricts enrollment in the State Childrens Health Insurance Program. Additionally, a provision that would limit physician ownership of hospitals also got dropped. The Senate was expected to vote on and pass the bill this week, and the White House has said that President Bush would not veto it.
Three more groups got behind efforts to no longer pay for care related to serious hospital errors, known as never events, joining an increasing list of state and private payers who have adopted such nonreimbursement policies (June 16, p. 6). Massachusetts officials announced the state will no longer pay for care related to 28 serious reportable events as defined by the National Quality Forum. The Tennessee Hospital Associations board of directors approved a policy for hospitals not to seek payment from patients or their insurance companies for care related to serious preventable adverse events. And the California Association of Health Plans unanimously passed a resolution in favor of no longer paying for the CMS list of eight conditions as well as three other preventable mistakes. The association said it also supports a bill moving through the California Legislature that would prohibit providers from billing payers for adverse events that cause death or injury. The moves follow a similar announcement by the New York state Medicaid program, scheduled for Oct. 1, the same date Medicare will stop paying for its eight hospital-acquired conditions.
Nearly 30,000 Medicare providers failed to pay more than $2 billion in federal taxes in 2006, the Government Accountability Office reported. The GAOs investigation found abusive and potentially criminal activity among these providers, such as failing to remit payroll taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. The report was requested by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees investigations panel, the third of a series of reports the committee requested to probe tax abuses among healthcare providers. The IRS is authorized to continuously withhold certain federal payments made to such delinquent taxpayers, yet the CMS has failed to do so. As a result, the government lost opportunities to potentially collect more than $140 million in unpaid taxes in 2006, according to the GAO. These tax deadbeats are guilty of shortchanging the government and forcing honest American citizens to shoulder the taxes they are shirking, said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Homeland Securitys investigations panel, in a written statement. Levin said the CMS has agreed to rewire its payment systems.
HHS agreed to make changes to the Medicare Part D program to settle a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of low-income seniors and disabled people who alleged persistent problems getting prescription drugs. Under the proposed settlement agreement, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the CMS would accelerate the Part D auto-enrollment process for beneficiaries who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, which the Government Accountability Office found takes a minimum of five weeks and often creates gaps in coverage. The agreement is subject to approval by the court, which will retain jurisdiction to enforce it for three years. The settlement agreement awaits final court approval, and CMS does not believe it is appropriate, therefore, to comment on the substance of the proposed settlement, CMS spokesman Jeff Nelligan said.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.