California Watch examined three years’ worth of state Medicare billing data showing that Chino Valley Medical Center owned by Prime Healthcare Services had the highest rate in the state of acute heart failure cases.
The analysis looked at every general hospital in California that treated at least 300 Medicare patients age 65 and older per year – 273 hospitals in all. Hospitals in the Kaiser Permanente managed care chain were excluded because the chain bills Medicare differently, making it difficult to compare apples to apples.
The data also shows:
- Although Chino Valley’s rate stands out, other facilities owned by Prime Healthcare Services also reported a big problem with acute heart failure among Medicare patients. The combined rate for 13 Prime hospitals was 12.9 percent, more than double the state rate of 5.1 percent. Of the 10 hospitals with the highest rates in California, eight were owned by Prime. (Alvarado Hospital, acquired by Prime in 2010, was excluded from the analysis.)
- The spike in acute heart failure cases wasn’t readily explained by geography or demographics. While Prime hospitals reported high rates, non-Prime hospitals only a few miles away saw far fewer cases. The rate at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, eight miles from the Chino Valley hospital, was 28 percentage points lower. Corona Regional Medical Center, 16 miles away, had a rate that was 32.7 percentage points lower.
- Prime reports far more acute heart failure among older patients than California hospitals that are nationally known for specializing in cardiac care. The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, which U.S. News & World Report ranked tops in California and ninth in the U.S. for cardiac care, reported only 2.2 percent of its Medicare patients had acute heart failure. Prime’s rate, chainwide, was nearly six times higher.