Some Hospitals Turn Profit by Shifting Medicare Losses to Commercial Payers, Says Study

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , March 22, 2010

"These are big public policy questions," Darling says. "As a nation, how should we be paying hospitals? If we think they're not working on efficiency because they don't have to, perhaps because they can pass the cost onto someone else, it's a hidden tax."

She added, "As Congress and the President try to find solutions to the healthcare crisis we have to find ways to make the health industry more efficient. We can't just cover millions of more people without a laser-like focus on controlling costs, which Warren Buffett refers to as a tapeworm destroying our financial success."

Elliott S. Fisher, MD, director of Population Health and Policy for the Dartmouth Institute, said research focuses on reducing unnecessary hospital stays.

"This important study from NBGH confirms that communities that are able to care for Medicare patients with fewer hospitalizations are able to do the same for their under-65 population. But to slow the growth of spending, we also need to address the problem of prices."

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