Shriners Hospitals for Children, Tampa, Fla., will begin to bill insurance for the first time in its history after the plan won clearance from HHS' office of the inspector general.
Shriners set to start billing insurers
Six of the health system's 20 U.S. children's hospitals are prepared to begin insurance billing and another four are expected to be ready in February, said Douglas Maxwell, chairman, president and CEO of Shriners Hospitals. Rising medical costs and the 2008 stock market plunge—which wiped $3 billion from the hospitals' assets that year—prompted the shift in payment policy, Maxwell said. For the year ended in December 2008, the most recent publicly available data, the Shriners Hospitals lost $575 million after its investment income plummeted. In 2009, the health system considered closing six hospitals but instead chose to seek insurance revenue, Maxwell said.
Maxwell confirmed that the Shriners Hospitals was the unnamed children's hospital network seeking an advisory opinion for a plan to bill insurers, but charge patients nothing, as well as offer subsidized housing and transportation to needy patients and caregivers. The inspector general's office said authorities would not move to sanction the Shriners Hospitals (PDF) under anti-kickback and civil monetary penalty laws.
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