29 Kentucky hospitals sue to stop reduction in federal reimbursement

bestep@herald-leader.comNovember 3, 2010 

A group representing 29 small rural Kentucky hospitals has sued to try to stop the federal government from reducing payments to the facilities.

The Kentucky Hospital Association filed the lawsuit in federal court in Covington on Wednesday.

The lawsuit says the federal agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid payments wants to cut a reimbursement that small hospitals have been getting.

The change would hurt the ability of small hospitals to provide care for low-income people, the lawsuit argues.

The hospitals at issue are designated as critical-access facilities. They have 25 or fewer beds and are in rural areas, the lawsuit said.

The intent of Congress was to make sure such facilities could stay afloat so people in rural areas would have access to in-patient services, the lawsuit says.

The suit lists 29 such facilities across the state, including hospitals in Woodford, Casey, Cumberland, Lincoln, Knox, Morgan, Owen, Nicholas, Russell, Estill, Leslie, Floyd, Madison, Grant, Mercer and Wayne counties.

The suit seeks an order to bar the federal government from cutting a reimbursement the hospitals have been getting to offset a state tax.

The defendants in the suit are Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services; Donald Berwick, head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and the contractor that handles the government payments to hospitals.

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