Massachusetts hospitals aim to avoid future Medicare reporting errors

A calculator up close

Hospitals in Massachusetts are working to ensure that a minor calculation error that led to the projected loss of more than $100 million in Medicare payments next year never happens again.

The hospitals are in talks to create an agreement that would allow for them to self-audit future wage reporting, the Eagle-Tribune reported.

The intent is to avoid an accidental under-reporting of wages to the Medicare program that occurred by the Partners HealthCare System facility Nantucket Cottage Hospital. The hospital is one of the few rural facilities in Massachusetts, and sets the floor for Medicare reimbursement in the state. The miscalculation is estimated to cost hospitals in Massachusetts $110 million in fiscal 2017. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services refused an appeal to correct the error, stating that the time under statute had lapsed.

The only positive development from the debacle is that it could have been worse. Partners had estimated earlier this year that the losses could have totaled $160 million in a worse-case scenario.

“We’re talking with the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) and other hospitals to put in a process that will have a double and triple check on the figures that hospitals submit,” Dianne J. Anderson, chief executive of Lawrence General Hospital in Lawrence, Massachusetts, told the Eagle-Tribune. Lawrence General is expected to lose $3.2 million in Medicare payments next year,

- read the Eagle-Tribune article