Machias Hospital Retains Medicare Eligibility

MACHIAS — The hard work has only just begun, but officials trying to correct problems at Down East Community Hospital in Machias will continue to collect federal Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement as they work to reverse issues that threatened the hospital’s eligibility for federal funds.

The hospital and its emergency receiver, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (EMHS), announced July 8 that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) agreed to allow the hospital to continue receiving reimbursement, thereby delaying an end to the hospital’s eligibility for reimbursement that was set to go into effect July 10.

The deadline for the hospital to comply with federal quality guidelines was extended to Sept. 30, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which had petitioned the court to place the hospital in emergency receivership. The court granted the state’s petition, and the state appointed EMHS as emergency receiver.

The Brewer-based health care network appointed Doug Jones, former CEO at Maine Coast Memorial, interim CEO at the Machias hospital.

“We are very pleased with CMS’ decision to extend the deadline,” DHHS Commissioner Brenda Harvey said in a prepared statement. “It is important that the receiver have a reasonable amount of time to address the deficiencies identified and align with federal standards. The ability to continue to receive federal reimbursement will help the hospital continue to serve the people of WashingtonCounty while EMHS continues its work to achieve federal compliance.”

The CMS notified Down East Community in late June that beginning July 10, it would no longer receive reimbursements because of its failure to correct deficiencies that prevented the hospital from achieving provider requirements.

The emergency receivership is intended to allow the hospital time to focus on correcting deficiencies and implementing a corrective plan to bring the hospital into compliance with federal standards.

Successful implementation of the plan would allow the hospital to receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement into the future.

“Things are going extremely well,” Jones said Tuesday. “There is a turn-around plan in place that senior leadership was working on before I got here.

“My role is to bring the resources and expertise of EMHS to the task and to capitalize on my experience in Ellsworth.”

Jones said the turn-around plan is very extensive and takes a broad-based approach to addressing CMS issues.

“There isn’t any part of my day that isn’t focused on that,” he said.

For more health news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.


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