Forty percent of the highest Medicare charging hospitals in the nation are in Florida and all are for-profit facilities, a report published in the Monday journal of Health Affairs shows.
The analysis found that 49 of the 50 top Medicare charges are for profit facilities and half are owned by the for-profit hospital chain Community Health Systems. 28 percent of the hospitals are owned by the Hospital Corporation of America chain Gov. Rick Scott founded.
Scott, through executive order, created a Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding to review the role of taxpayer funding for hospitals, insurers and healthcare providers. From the outset, though, the commission narrowed its focus to Medicaid and Low Income Pool dollars.
It has not focused on other taxpayer-funded health care such as Medicare, Veterans Administration health care or even health care financed in Florida by the state employee health insurance.
Kaiser reported that in a statement Community Health Systems spokesperson Tomi Galin said the hospitals provided more than $3.3 billion in charity care, discounts and other uncompensated care for patients in 2014, as well as “millions of dollars in taxes that help fund critically important services in every community where we operate.”
The charges examined by the study, Galin said, “are not relevant measures of what consumers, insurers or the government pay for services.” But they are what the uninsured could pay.
The study’s authors–assistant professor in accounting at Washington and Lee University Ge Bai and Gerard F. Anderson, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management and the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health–reviewed 2012 Medicare cost reports for the analysis.
The costs reports showed that the highest charging facilities had a markup of approximately 10 times the Medicare allowable costs compared to a national average of 3.4 and a mode of 2.4. North Okaloosa Medical Center, part of the Community Health Systems chain, had the highest charges of all: 12.6 times Medicare’s rate, the Kaiser story notes.