Noteworthy News

GAO Finds Problems With Medicaid DSH Payments

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is now reviewing audits of states’ Medicaid disproportionate share payments (Medicaid DSH) to hospitals and is raising questions about states’ compliance with federal requirements for those payments.

Based on its analysis of state Medicaid DSH audits, GAO found that states are making Medicaid DSH payments to hospitals that exceed those hospitals’ uncompensated care costs and are inaccurately calculating those hospital uncompensated care costs.  The GAO also found that states are not always targeting their Medicaid DSH payments to the hospitals that provide the most uncompensated care.

States are required to submit audits and data as a condition of receiving Medicaid DSH funds from the federal government.  Currently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is not acting on the information it receives but will begin doing so after a transition period that ends when 2014 audits are completed.  In anticipation of that time, GAO is reviewing the information CMS receives for state compliance with six federal standards for Medicaid DSH payments.

This data also may eventually be used to help implement the Medicaid DSH payment reduction mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

Because urban safety-net hospitals generally care for so many uninsured and low-income patients and receive higher Medicaid DSH payments than other hospitals, they are far more dependent on these payments than other hospitals and will need to watch this situation closely in the future.

Learn more about GAO’s examination of Medicaid DSH payments – why it is undertaking this review, what it found, and how its findings may be used in the future – in the report More Transparency of and Accountability for Supplemental Payments are Needed, which can be found heregaotitle, on GAO’s web site.

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