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Immediate Jeopardy at Parkland Puts VBP Incentive Pay in Peril

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 8, 2011

I tried to find out from CMS' Washington office, and CMS' other nine regional offices, what those numbers look like, and how many immediate jeopardies had been declared in recent years. Is there a trend, I wonder, that increases the stakes to improve and may push more hospitals out of the competition for federal payment?

But no one from other regional offices, except Region 6, answered that question before my deadline.

CMS spokeswoman Cohen in the Washington office reiterated what she told me in March: CMS doesn't have that information, although it has recently begun to track it.

In any case, hospitals should be on notice now, if they haven't been already. They may very well be locked out of the ballpark in rough and tumble competition for that $850 million. The federal definition of immediate jeopardy is extremely broad. A hospital doesn't even have to cause harm to get this designation, just allow an environment that makes it more likely to occur.

Here's one good thing about all this: It could raise quality all around.

And here's another: After CMS excludes hospitals that jeopardize patient care to this extent, there'll be more of that $850 million for everybody else.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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