Los Angeles County Hospital Could Lose Federal Funding
Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital is not meeting minimum federal standards for emergency care and could lose eligibility to participate in Medicare if the problems are not addressed within 23 days, CMS officials said Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The latest action by federal regulators comes after local media highlighted two problematic cases at the facility. In one, a patient was left in the emergency department lobby on the floor in pain for 45 minutes without care; the patient later died. In the other case, a patient was held in the King-Harbor ED for four days when he should have been transferred to another facility for treatment of a brain tumor.
King-Harbor is operating under a special agreement with CMS after the agency dropped the hospital's certification to participate in Medicare. Under the agreement reached in March, Los Angeles County is not billing Medicare for procedures at the hospital until August, by which time the hospital is expected to have addressed the problems that led to the earlier suspension of funds.
County officials say the county cannot afford to maintain services at King-Harbor without Medicare funds and have raised the possibility of closure if the hospital is ruled ineligible to participate in Medicare.
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Director Bruce Chernof in a written statement described CMS' findings as "serious and troubling." He said that federal officials next week would send a letter to the county outlining problems at the hospital and that the board of supervisors would discuss the issue next week.
CMS officials in Washington, D.C., declined to comment on the matter (Ornstein/Lopez, Los Angeles Times, 6/8).