Dialysis Patients Upset By Upcoming Medicare Ambulance Cuts
Dialysis patients are upset with Medicare’s latest announcement of impending ambulance reimbursement costs. In addition, transportation providers are concerned that such cuts will cause some dialysis patients to lose access to care.
Medicare is sending notices to Medicare administrative contractors telling them to reduce reimbursement for regular, non-emergency ambulance transportation for dialysis appointments by 13% starting Oct. 1, 2018. Congress called for the cut in its February continuing resolution, known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
This cut comes on top of a 10% reduction in 2013, so reimbursement for such rides will be 23% less than they were five years ago.
Dialysis: New Transportation Realities
Transportation for dialysis patients can mean the difference between life and death. Many patients are not able to drive or don’t own cars, according to the American Kidney Fund. The fund is a charity dedicated to helping kidney patients pay their insurance costs.
Ambulance providers across Southern, Mid-Atlantic, and East Coast states are especially furious about the cut. They now will operate under a rule that requires Medicare beneficiaries to get prior authorization for rides.
Dialysis: Medicare Clamping Down On Fraud
Medicare claims that its cuts are due to many cases of fraudulent improper billing. Although fraud experts agree that incidents of improper billing have dropped in recent years, problems persist. Cases of improper billing have been the subject of legal action in California, Ohio and Georgia over the last two years.
A 2010 report from HHS’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) indicated that 20% of the agency’s spending on non-emergency ambulance trips were improper because ambulance companies overbilled Medicare.
For example, in 2012, Medicare Part B paid $5.8 billion for ambulance transports, almost double the amount it paid in 2003, according to the OIG.
Dialysis patients have until this October to convince Congress to restore reimbursement payments for their treatment travel expenses. Congress should make a greater effort to curb fraud rather than putting patients health in danger.
We proudly note that The Grand Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center houses a complete dialysis center for its patients.