Winnebago tribal hospital to lose Medicare funding

2014-05-27T21:00:00Z 2015-07-10T08:26:02Z Winnebago tribal hospital to lose Medicare fundingDAVE DREESZEN Sioux City Journal

WINNEBAGO, Neb. | The Winnebago Indian Health Services Hospital's Medicare agreement will be terminated June 4, according to a public notice from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

After that date, the northeast Nebraska hospital will no longer be reimbursed for treating patients enrolled in the health care program for the elderly and disabled.

In a legal notice published, CMS said it has "determined that the Winnebago IHS is "not in substantial compliance" with Medicare regulations for hospitals.

But John Blackhawk, chairman of the Winnebago Tribe, said the hospital is working with the CMS to avert that funding cutoff by forging a plan of action to correct the federal agency's concerns.

Experts with the Indian Health Service have been brought in to assist with the plan, which includes demonstrating additional training the hospital staff has completed, he said.

Blackhawk stressed the Winnebago hospital remains open and continues to serve patients.

Losing access to Medicare funding would be devastating for the rural hospital, which receives around $2 million annually from the program, he said.

Winnebago IHS Hospital CEO Patricia Medina declined comment Tuesday.

The CMS, which oversees the Medicare and Medicaid programs, was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

In a May 2 letter, the CMS warned the Winnebago hospital could lose its Medicare funding if it failed to correct a series of alleged deficiencies.

The action was triggered by an incident involving an identified patient who was admitted for respiratory problems and died April 17.

After an investigation, CMS concluded the hospital's nursing staff failed to meet the needs of the patient during the inpatient stay. The federal government agency found that conditions within the hospital "posed an immediate and serious threat to the health and safety of patients."

Copyright 2015 Sioux City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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