Feds: Parkview in Brunswick shouldn't get Medicare, Medicaid payments

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BRUNSWICK — The federal government is challenging Parkview Adventist Medical Center’s ability to receive Medicare and Medicaid service payments.

If the denial is allowed to stand, hospital officials say it could force what remains of Parkview to shut down.

In court documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Portland, attorneys for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services argue that Parkview is no longer eligible for reimbursements because it is “not a hospital,” and has terminated its provider agreement.

Parkview filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection June 16, and terminated its inpatient services June 18.

All inpatient and emergency services have been transferred to Mid Coast Hospital. The hospitals plan to merge under Parkview’s pre-packaged bankruptcy plan.

CMS argues that because Parkview no longer provides inpatient care, it “no longer meets the definition of a ‘hospital,’ as outlined in … the Social Security Act.”

Attorneys for CMS also maintain that Parkview voluntarily terminated its Medicare provide agreement June 15, a day before the hospital filed for bankruptcy.

On July 9, Parkview filed a motion to compel CMS to continue paying Medicare and Medicaid for outpatient services.

Attorneys for Parkview argue that the hospital only intended to end reimbursements for inpatient services in its provider agreement, and not for outpatient services.

“(Parkview) has never indicated its intent to either reject the Provider Agreement or discontinue (outpatient) services,” the filing states.

In not making payments for outpatient services, CMS “does a terrible disservice to the Medicare patients and the patient community … and may force (Parkview) to abruptly discontinue all medical services to the detriment of its patients.”

“The net results of CMS’ attempt to terminate the Provider Agreement would be to either block the access of many of the oldest and neediest of (Parkview’s) patients,” it continues. “It can only be described as arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable conduct.” 

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Peter Cary on July 24 denied Parkview’s motion to compel CMS to continue making payments.

But that doesn’t mean the hospital can’t continue billing for Medicare and Medicaid services, according to Parkview’s legal counsel.

In an interview Tuesday, attorney George Marcus of Marcus Clegg & Mistretta said “what the court did was to say: ‘I’m not the right court to adjudicate medicare billing disputes … go to Medicare first.'”

Parkview will now try to seek reimbursement for outpatient services through CMS “administrative remedies,” Marcus said.

In the meantime, Parkview will continue billing CMS for Medicare and Medicaid services.

“Patients won’t know any difference,” Marcus said.

Jobs retained

In an interview earlier this month, Parkview President Randee Reynolds and Mid Coast President and CEO Lois Skillings said that so far, there had been no layoffs of inpatient care and emergency jobs.

“It’s been a smooth transition … everything has gone very well for us,” Reynolds said.

He said 40 people had already been transferred to Mid Coast as of July 20.

“We’re offering all full and part-time positions homes at Mid Coast,” Skillings said.

Speaking of the reorganization more generally, Reynolds said “everything we have put forward is subject to (bankruptcy) court approval … other than that I don’t see any hurdles.”

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or wwuthmann@theforecaster.net. Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Sidebar Elements

Parkview Adventist Medical Center, which opened in Brunswick in 1959, filed for bankruptcy on June 16.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.