Tenet Hospitals in California Charge More for Workers’ Compensation Claims, CNA Study Finds
Tenet Healthcare, the largest hospital chain in California, charges about twice the amount as other hospitals in the state for workers' compensation claims, according to a study released yesterday by the California Nurses Association, the Contra Costa Times reports. The study, based on data released by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, found that the median bill for workers' compensation claims at Tenet hospitals in California in 2000 was about $34,000, compared to a statewide median bill of about $17,000. A state formula determines the amount that health insurers must reimburse Tenet hospitals for workers' compensation claims, but Tenet can charge higher rates for "more expensive and complex" cases (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 12/8). Tenet's billing practices have come under scrutiny after company officials announced early last 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. Last week, the Assembly Health Committee announced plans to investigate allegations that Tenet hospitals on average charge 63% more for services than other facilities in California and that Tenet increased charges as much as 31% in 1999 and raised prescription drug prices more than elevenfold at some hospitals (California Healthline, 12/5). Tenet spokesperson Steven Campanini called the study released yesterday a "bogus manipulation" of state data and "disputed the importance" of the study, the Times reports. "A very small portion of our business is represented by workers' compensation revenue," he said (Contra Costa Times, 12/8).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.