Prime Healthcare Facility in California Curbs Billing for Kwashiorkor
Shasta Regional Medical Center in Redding, Calif., part of Ontario, Calif.-based Prime Healthcare Services, has stopped billing Medicare for a rare malnutrition disorder after it faced criticism last year for inordinately high billing of the disease, according to a California Watch report.
Soon after for-profit Prime took over Shasta Regional in 2008, California Watch reported the hospital billed Medicare for more than 1,100 cases of kwashiorkor, a severe form of malnutrition most commonly seen among children in famine-stricken areas and developing countries.
Kwashiorkor commands higher payments from Medicare, and during the height of the hospital's billing of the disorder, which was 70 times the state average, the hospital received $6.9 million in extra payments, according to the report.
Prime said in a statement that its billing practices were legal and accurate, and the sudden drop of kwashiorkor claims resulted from "certain changes in Medicare coding guidelines" related to malnutrition in elderly patients, according to the report.
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