Resistance Grows Toward Hospitals' Facility Fees
As lawmakers try to curb Medicare costs, more are eyeing the facility fees associated with hospital-owned physician practices despite previous failed legislative attempts to rein in the charges, according to a Washington Post report.
Medicare pays at least $1 billion annually for facility fees, which are separate charges from bills for physician services, according to the report. Hospitals that own physician practices and outpatient clinics can add these fees to cover physicians' use of their facilities.
Sen. Kevin Mullin (R-Vt.) introduced a bill last year to halt hospitals from suddenly imposing facility fees, but the legislation failed. The House also introduced legislation last year that included a provision to trim roughly $6.8 billion in Medicare costs over 10 years by honing in on facility fees, but that bill also failed in the Senate.
If Medicare cuts payments for facility fees, private payors would "almost certainly" follow suit, according to the report. However, insurers aren't waiting for a legislative halt to show more resistance toward facility fees. Dolores Mitchell, executive director of Massachusetts' Group Insurance Commission, said she encourages health plans to resist reimbursing higher prices for equal patient visits or services.
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