Four more transplant centers could lose CMS funds

CMS has let four more heart transplant centers know that they may lose Medicare and Medicaid funding in 30 days due to the low volume of transplants they've done in recent years. The hospitals include Sutter Memorial Hospital, Hartford Hospital (CT), Washington Hospital Center (Washington, DC) and BryanLGH Medical Center East (Lincoln, NE). CMS has been particularly aggressive in threatening low-end programs of late, in part after a recent investigation found that a fifth of 236 heart, liver and lung transplant centers eligible for reimbursement weren't performing enough procedures to stay in practice or had less than acceptable patient survival rates.

Since June, when the investigation was released, CMS has threatened two other heart programs, both of which were given extra time to meet Medicare standards. Though the current programs' patients seem to be doing well, each of the programs listed above performed less than 12 surgeries last year, falling below a minimum set by CMS. Generally speaking, a transplant program can keep its CMS certification if it submits and gets approved a corrective action plan, which includes an explanation of why it failed to meet standards.

To learn more about the transplant issue:
- read this piece in the Los Angeles Times