Western Pa. hospitals sue over subsidies
Two Western Pennsylvania hospitals say a federal program designed to help hospitals that serve large shares of low-income patients has shorted them more than $1.8 million since 1995.
Monongahela Valley Hospital in Carroll Township and St. Vincent Health Center in Erie sued the Department of Health and Human Resources in federal court on Friday, alleging the agency arbitrarily excluded a group of low-income Pennsylvania patients from the formula it uses to distribute the subsidy, costing the hospitals federal dollars.
Corinne Laboon, vice president of marketing and community relations for Monongahela Valley, said the agency's decision hasn't kept the hospital from treating those patients, but it has hindered the hospital's ability to upgrade facilities.
“It reduces the amount that we have for capital expenditures and expenses,” she said.
The Department of Health and Human Services didn't respond to requests for comment.
Roger Baumgarten, spokesman for the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, declined to comment.
The Disproportionate Share Hospital program offsets the losses hospitals take when they treat patients who are covered by Medicaid or are uninsured. The agency bases the subsidy on the percentage of a hospital's services that go to low-income patients.
Monongahela Valley and St. Vincent claim the agency's calculations for fiscal years 1995 through 2007 excluded Pennsylvania patients who received medical assistance through the state's General Assistance program even though their incomes were less than 50 percent of the federal poverty level.
By comparison, the agency granted other states waivers that allowed them to count patients with incomes as high as twice the federal poverty level, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit says the agency's decision cost Monongahela Valley more than $1 million and St. Vincent more than $800,000 since 1995.
The hospitals are asking a judge to overturn the agency's decision and order it to pay them the losses plus interest.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Linebacker Harrison coming along slowly since return to Steelers
- Pirates acquire infielder from Indians, designate Axford, Gomez for assignment
- Warhol bodyguard sued over hidden artwork
- Penguins look to buck shots, goals trend
- Patron alerts store employees to burning Rostraver building
- Steelers notebook: Shazier returns just in time
- 9-month probe leads to major heroin bust in McKeesport
- Komen acceptance of drilling-linked money raises ire
- Fábregas: Cancer-stricken California woman chooses to plan her death
- WPIAL football playoff clinchings
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Sewickley Academy’s Anthony Muscato, NA’s Tina Li