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March 4, 2019

Kaiser Health News: Four Maine hospitals face patient safety penalties

Four Maine hospitals will incur patient safety penalties costing them 1% of Medicare payments over the federal fiscal year, which runs through September, according to a report by Kaiser Health News on Saturday.

The four are St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle (whose name changed to Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital last fall), York Hospital in York and Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

It's the fourth straight year CMMC has been penalized for high numbers of infections and patient injuries, Kaiser Health News reported.

It also reported that 10 Maine hospitals will be penalized under the program set up by the Affordable Care Act, which cuts Medicare payments by as much as 3% for hospitals having high rates of readmissions — although, it added, typically the average penalty is much lower.

Maine hospitals facing readmission penalties, as reported by Kaiser Health News, are: St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston; York Hospital in York; Cary Medical Center in Caribou; St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor; Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington; Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor; Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital in Presque Isle; Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston; Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport; and Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick.

The Bangor Daily News, adding to Kaiser Health News' report, reported that representatives from the affected hospitals in Maine said the recent penalties are based on old data and do not reflect recent improvements.

"These government announcements often generate headlines, but don't provide a complete picture of actual quality of care offered," Dr. John Alexander, CMMC's chief quality officer, told the BDN.

Kaiser Health News also reported that the hospital industry has protested the federal government's penalties, stating that the program's design creates an arbitrary cutoff for which institutions get punished and which do not.

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