A Houston hospital system will no longer be reimbursed for patients covered by Medicare

Federal health authorities terminated their contract after multiple failed inspections.

By Michael MarksJanuary 13, 2022 5:18 pm,

Federal health authorities plan to cancel their Medicare contract with United Memorial Medical Center, after the system failed multiple inspections.

That means the hospitals will no longer be reimbursed by the government for treating patients who are insured by Medicare. And without the support of those federal dollars, the health system may not be able to survive.

Rebecca Carballo, a reporter for the Chronicle, spoke to the Texas Standard about how this will affect the system’s patients, and why federal health authorities terminated the contract.

Highlights from this segment:

– United Memorial has four hospitals in the Houston area. The system has around 150 beds and its main hospital serves an area whose median household income is $36,000.

– United Memorial failed five inspections in 2021: the system was found not to be screening staff members for COVID-19, and nurses did not have needed certifications. There were other deficiencies as well.

– It’s unclear why the system failed its final inspection – the fifth. That report won’t be made available until February. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who’s worked to maintain the Medicare contract, told the Houston Chronicle it was mostly over “paperwork.”

– The system’s contract with Medicare has been canceled as of January 11, meaning it will not be reimbursed for treatment of Medicare patients, and will soon face the same limitation with respect to Medicaid. The hospital has said it will take on the expense of treating Medicare and Medicaid patients itself, though that practice is certainly not sustainable.

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