Wills Eye Fighting To Keep Hospital Status, Inpatient Services

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A bureaucratic fight over licensing is threatening some services at Wills Eye Hospital.

This fight pits Wills Eye Hospital against the centers for Medicare, and Medicaid services which determines reimbursement rates. Yes it’s ultimately about money, but technically it’s whether Wills is classified as a hospital or a surgery center.

Today, Senator Bob Casey threw his support behind Wills, “Wills Eye hospital to use a vast understatement, is a world class hospital. A world class institution,” he said.

This is personal for Senator Casey. He said his daughters vision was saved at Wills Eye Hospital. Now, he’s fighting the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS), which wants to classify Wills as a surgery center, instead of an inpatient hospital.

“That conflict if it were to play out fully would result in Wills Eye in essence having to shut down a lot of services,” he explained. CMS has maintained that Wills provides mostly out-patient services which get lower reimbursement rates, but doctors at Wills say they need hospital status for complicated surgical cases, including work with children. “There are a number of procedures that require you to have hospital status.” Dr. Haller, the Ophthalmologist-in-Chief explained.

Joining Senator Casey is the family of 6-year-old Joey Povio who is being treated for eye cancer. “We started with the best, and he’s halfway done now, doing well, so we are grateful,” Joey’s mother explained. If Wills loses to CMS, it might not be able to treat patients like Joey. “We cannot allow that to happen. Too many families in this region, this commonwealth, this country depend on Wills Eye.” Senator Casey urged.

A statement for CMS says its continuing to work with Wills Eye to ensure they provide care in accordance with the health and safety requirements required of all Medicare-certified Ambulatory Surgery Centers.

The facility will be allowed to continue receiving Medicare reimbursement if it submits an acceptable plan of correction by November 1. Wills Responded to that by saying its only option would be to stop impatient services, so right now, it’s a standoff, both sides digging in.

The “acceptable plan of correction,” referred to by CMS is for Wills Eye Hospital to cease all of the inpatient services it provides under its Pennsylvania hospital license. If CMS is successful in forcing Wills Eye Hospital to cease providing inpatient services, then Wills Eye Hospital will no longer meet the requirements for Pennsylvania licensure and will lose its hospital license.

That result will severely limit the types of services available at Wills Eye Hospital and deny care to those patients who are most in need of Wills Eye Hospital’s complex, specialized services.

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