Houston hospital appeals loss of federal funding for heart transplants

Houston-based Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center filed an administrative appeal with CMS on Sept. 14, about a month after the agency terminated Medicare and Medicaid funding for the hospital's heart transplant program, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The hospital suspended its heart transplant program for 14 days starting June 1 after an investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle revealed the hospital's heart transplant survival rate ranks near the bottom nationally, and three of nine patients who received heart transplants at the hospital in the first six months of 2018 have died. The program resumed June 15 after hospital officials said changes were made to improve care.

CMS notified St. Luke's in late June that the hospital had violated a federal statute by failing to notify the agency of its plan to suspend the heart transplant program. CMS said St. Luke's had not done enough to ensure patient safety. The agency ended funding for the hospital's heart transplant program Aug. 17.

In a statement announcing the appeal, the hospital said it has taken steps to strengthen its heart transplant program over the past few years. "We do not believe CMS' recent decisions reflect our ongoing progress and accomplishments to improve the quality of our care, and we look forward to presenting the facts so that heart transplant reimbursements can be reinstated," the hospital said, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The hospital's appeal will be heard before an HHS administrative law judge.

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