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Ashland Asante Hospital Leads Oregon In Penalties For Health Care Quality

Image of emergency entrance outside hospital.
Erik Neumann / JPR
Asante Ashland Community Hospital

Annual data released this week ranks Asante Ashland Community Hospital with some of the largest penalties in Oregon for low hospital quality measures.


The Ashland hospital was hit with the highest penalties in the state for hospital unplanned readmissions, according to an analysis from Kaiser Health News. Asante was also consistently penalized since 2015 for how often patients acquire conditions during their stays. The data for both comes from the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.


“The primary purpose of the [Hospital-Acquired Condition] Reduction Program is to create incentive for hospitals to improve quality of care by reducing patient safety events and healthcare-associated infections,” a CMS spokesperson wrote in an email to JPR.


Representatives from Asante Ashland declined multiple requests to comment on this story.


The penalties are based on a variety of measures including hospital-acquired bloodstream and surgical site infections, and also unplanned readmissions within 30 days for pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulminary disease or COPD, and hip and knee replacements.


Hospitals get penalized in what they’re paid from the federal government for Medicare costs. Both the hospital-acquired condition and readmission programs were established as part of the Affordable Care Act.


For readmission penalties, Medicare cuts up to 3 percent for each patient discharged per year. Asante Ashland Community Hospital led the state in penalties at 2.75 percent for fiscal year 2019 and 2.40 percent for fiscal year 2020, which began this week. The average penalty nationwide was significantly less, at 0.7 percent of each payment, according to Kaiser Health News.


For hospital-acquired conditions, hospitals are penalized by 1 percent of Medicare payments. Asante Ashland was penalized each year between 2015 and 2019. Data in that category for 2020 is not yet available.  


Asante Ashland wasn’t the only hospital in our region to be penalized for excess readmissions. Providence Medford Medical Center, Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls and Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay were also penalized, among others.


Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.