OIG: Medicare spends billions on deficient stays

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A government report released last week criticized the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for throwing billions of Medicare dollars at poor care.

Medicare paid about $4.5 billion during calendar year 2004 for consecutive inpatient and skilled nursing facility stay sequences that were associated with quality-of-care problems and fragmentation of services, the report from the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General said.

This year's report echoes the findings of a June 2005 review of similar consecutive stay sequences in nursing homes. CMS should work more with providers to improve systems of care. The agency also should direct quality improvement organizations (QIOs) to better monitor quality of care within consecutive stay sequences, the OIG said.

The report, Consecutive Medicare Stays Involving Inpatient and Skilled Nursing Facilities, is available at http://www.oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-06-00340.pdf.