Palmetto Health makes changes in response to Medicare threat

jholleman@thestate.comJune 7, 2013 

— Palmetto Health Richland has made internal changes aimed at solving problems that led the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to threaten to end their contract with the hospital.

The hospital issued a statement Friday in response to media inquiries after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ran a legal ad in Monday’s edition of The State about the possible termination of its provider agreement. The statement provided few details about the deficiencies found during the federal agency’s site visit on May 23-24. The agency made the visit in response to a patient complaint.

The problems were referred to by the hospital statement as “technical deficiencies related to patient care and nursing standards.”

The solutions were described as “providing education to nursing team members about the issues cited by CMS and enhancing our internal processes to address the identified deficiencies.”

Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it’s not uncommon for a patient complaint to lead to an investigation, or for an investigation to find a problem. The legal ad and the threat to terminate services are part of the process.

Actual termination of a provider agreement, however, is very rare. It’s happened only twice in the past two years, once in Pennsylvania and once in Texas, according to agency spokesperson Lee Milliman.

The State has filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking more details on the investigation and the deficiencies found, but the federal agency has said it will need up to 10 days to provide that information.

The federal agency has until June 22 to decide whether the corrective actions are sufficient.

“We are confident that CMS will formally accept our plan and confirm its effective deployment with a follow-up site visit,” the hospital statement said.

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