Tenet Hospitals in California Charge More for Treatment of Most Common Conditions in Medicare Beneficiaries
Tenet Healthcare, the largest hospital operator in California, charges more than other hospital chains in the state on average for treatment of the most common conditions in Medicare beneficiaries, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis of hospital financial records (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 11/27). Tenet's billing practices have come under scrutiny after company officials announced earlier this month that the HHS Office of Inspector General will audit the company's hospitals to determine whether Tenet properly billed Medicare for outlier payments, which reimburse for unusually costly care. Tenet hospitals have been receiving an "extraordinarily high share" of these payments, according to government officials. Ken Weakley, an analyst for UBS Warburg, estimated that about 23% of Tenet's Medicare reimbursements come from outlier payments, compared to 6% on average for other comparable hospitals (California Healthline, 11/7). According to public records from Medicare and the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the average charge at Tenet hospitals in California for treatment of heart failure and shock -- the most common condition for which Medicare beneficiaries seek hospital care -- was $31,381 in 2000, compared to $18,457 on average at the state's other hospitals; Tenet's average charge for treatment of pneumonia, the second most common condition, was $37,915 in 2000, compared to $19,918 on average at the state's other hospitals. The average charge at Tenet hospitals in California for reattachment of major limbs, the fourth most common condition for which Medicare beneficiaries seek hospital care, was $67,780 in 2000, 76% more on average than at the state's other hospitals. Last year, Tenet hospitals in California on average earned $1,662 per patient per day, compared to $1,490 on average at the state's other hospitals (Sacramento Bee, 11/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.