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February 20, 2024

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Mission Hospital At Risk of Losing Federal Funding

A recent report, disclosed in a letter from the North Carolina health department to Mission Hospital, suggests that the hospital may be at risk of losing its federal funding for Medicare reimbursement. State inspectors have identified the facility as being in “immediate jeopardy” of non-compliance with the Federal Medicare Conditions of Participation.

According to investigators from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Mission Hospital has failed on multiple fronts in caring for and safely evaluating patients in the emergency department. The letter, obtained by Asheville Watchdog from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), highlighted incidents in April, July, August, and October of the previous year, where the hospital’s nursing staff allegedly failed to provide a safe environment for patients in the Emergency Department.

The letter expressed concerns about the hospital’s failure to accept patients promptly on arrival, leading to delays in triage, assessments, monitoring, and implementation of orders, including labs. Jakob Emerson, assistant news director for healthcare news publication Beckers, described the situation as “the most severe and egregious threat to the health and safety of patients,” with potential serious sanctions, including the loss of Medicare and Medicaid funding.

N.C. Sen. Julie Mayfield, representing Asheville, acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and expressed her intention to discuss with NCDHHS officials the possibility of declaring a state of health emergency for Western North Carolinians. She emphasized that the hospital can no longer dismiss concerns as anecdotal, stating, “Everything is not fine.”

Mayfield is also concerned about the hospital’s ability to address staffing and care problems within the timeframe specified in the letter. The report suggests that Medicare officials reviewing the findings may demand Mission Hospital to address issues within 23 days.

Mission Hospital’s spokeswoman, Nancy Lindell, responded to the preliminary survey results from CMS, acknowledging the seriousness of the findings and emphasizing the hospital’s commitment to improvement. She mentioned that Mission Hospital has already taken actions, including deploying additional resources and leveraging expertise from HCA Healthcare. The hospital is expecting final survey results shortly and is actively working on a corrective action plan for Medicare.

State Attorney General Josh Stein, who is suing HCA Healthcare for an alleged breach of contract, expressed concerns, particularly regarding the hospital’s lack of an oncology cancer team.

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