CMS to terminate Houston hospital's Medicare contract

In a rare step, CMS is cutting Medicare and Medicaid funding to Houston-based St. Joseph Medical Center on Dec. 3, according to a Houston Press report.

The funding cut announcement comes after a federal inquiry into an incident at the hospital in August that involved an off-duty police officer, who was working security at St. Joseph, shooting a combative patient.

The 51-page report on the incident revealed the patient who was shot had a history of manic depressive and anxiety disorders, grew confused and repeatedly left his hospital room naked after being admitted. In the federal report, the investigators state that hospital administrators initially blamed the patient for the shooting, saying his behavior justified the incident.

CMS has granted St. Joseph's officials several extensions to comply with its requested changes, but the hospital has failed to do so. In a letter to St. Joseph CEO Mark Bernard, CMS said the hospital will lose its Medicare and Medicaid funding Dec. 3 because of its "continued non-compliance with Medicare's basic health and safety regulations," according to the report.

David Wright, regional administrator at CMS, told the Houston Press, "While this was not the anticipated outcome, this action is necessary to ensure that patients have access to care and treatment in a safe environment, as is expected in all Medicare-certified facilities."

Although the federal government will not reimburse the hospital for Medicare or Medicaid patients as of Dec. 3, St. Joseph officials have until Jan. 13 to contest CMS' decision, according to the report.

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