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Partners’s big problem from a little island

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Downtown lovely but very, very pricey Nantucket.

Math  errors at  tiny  Nantucket Cottage Hospital, on the island of Nantucket, Mass., and part of giant PartnersHealthCare have created what might become a $160 million drop in Medicare payments in the Bay State over the next year.

The Boston Globe reports that the problem could cut  Medicare funding by 10 percent at some hospitals as well as  force layoffs of 2,000 staff, mostly outside of Boston, says the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals.

Here the nub of the Globe story:

“…Medicare must reimburse a state’s urban hospitals for employee wages at least as much as it reimburses its rural hospitals. As a result, Nantucket sets the floor for wage reimbursements at hospitals across the state. And because Nantucket’s wages are high, due to its remote island location and steep cost of living, that has created bonuses for many other Massachusetts hospitals in recent years.

“Not this year. Consultants hired by Partners made several errors that led to lower wages being reported to Medicare for Nantucket Hospital. They overestimated hours, thereby reducing the hourly rate, and did not include enough higher-paid physician hours and overtime pay, according to an e-mail from the Massachusetts Hospital Association obtained by The Globe.”

“Those mistakes, combined with another smaller adjustment to Nantucket’s wages, would result in a ‘steep and extraordinarily serious’ decline in Medicare payments, wrote the association’s general counsel, Timothy Gens, in the e-mail. He said ‘the situation is further complicated by the fact that the [Medicare] deadline for corrections has passed.’ The rates affect the next fiscal year, beginning in October.”




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