The Houston Chronicle reported last week that Medicare is cutting off funding to the heart transplant program at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed the Houston hospital that it needed to notify Medicare beneficiaries awaiting heart transplants of the change. It’s also pushing St. Luke’s to assist patients in transferring to other transplant programs. Here’s the Chronicle with more details:
St. Luke’s can still appeal the ruling before an administrative law judge, but that would not stop the termination of funding next month. In a statement Tuesday, a St. Luke’s spokeswoman said the hospital has not yet decided if it will appeal before the Sept. 14 deadline set by Medicare. She said the hospital would notify patients and help any who wish to transfer, as required.
CMS’ pressure followed an investigation by the Chron and ProPublica that showed a declining program at St. Luke’s, where top doctors have left and survival probability rates have dropped. (After that series came out, I rounded up the rates of DFW’s heart transplant programs here.)