The American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) filed a lawsuit together on Dec. 4 against the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The lawsuit is in response to CMS’s finalization of its outpatient hospital payment rule to apply to site-neutral cuts to office visit services at grandfathered off-campus hospital-based clinic locations.
According to the AHA and the AAMC, the payment reduction will be detrimental to the ability of hospitals to meet the needs of their patients.
WSHA member Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles is one of several hospitals to join the suit as a plaintiff. The other hospitals are Mercy Health in Michigan and York Hospital in Maine.
“These cuts directly undercut the clear intent of Congress to protect hospital outpatient departments because of the real and crucial differences between them and other sites of care,” AHA CEO and President Rick Pollack said. “For example, patients who receive care in a hospital outpatient department are more likely to be poorer and have more severe chronic conditions than patients treated in an independent physician office. In addition, only hospitals provide 24/7 access to care for patients, regardless of their ability to pay, hospitals are held to far higher regulatory requirements, and hospital outpatient departments in inner cities and rural areas are often the only sites of care that provide the services they do.”
“It is alarming that CMS continues to propose cuts that will harm the teaching hospitals that provide care to the most vulnerable patients, including Medicare beneficiaries. Patients who seek care at teaching hospital off-campus outpatient departments often can only find care at these institutions,” AAMC CEO and President Darrell G. Kirch said. “Successfully managing the complex medical needs of these patients requires considerable resources and coordination, and hospital outpatient departments are best positioned to provide that level of care.”