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Patient infections, falls increased in privately owned hospitals: study

Patient falls and infections have increased in hospitals taken over by private equity firms, according to a new study.

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of American Medicine, used data from 100 percent of Medicare Part A claims and found that three years after hospitals experienced private equity acquisitions, there was a 25.4 percent increase in “hospital-acquired conditions, which were caused by falls and central line-associated bloodstream infections.”

“Medicare beneficiaries at private equity hospitals were slightly younger, less likely to have dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid, and transferred more to other acute care hospitals compared to the control, likely reflecting a population of beneficiaries admitted at low risk,” we read in the study.

“This potentially explains a small relative reduction in hospital mortality that dissipated 30 days after hospital discharge.”

Two weeks ago, the Leadership for Lower Costs and More Transparency Act passed the House after facing opposition in September from Democrats like Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) due to the absence of provisions concerning private ownership of health establishments.

The bill also seeks to prohibit tiered pricing by pharmacy benefit managers, while adding site-neutral payment reforms to Medicare.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) described the legislation as “a victory for anyone who has ever struggled to navigate and understand the cost of a health care procedure or a prescription medication at the pharmacy counter.”

“These measures will provide consumers and employers with data on prices charged by hospitals and rates paid by insurers, so they can compare prices and save money,” Pallone added.

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