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Health Highlights: June 25, 2018

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Houston Hospital's Heart Transplant Program to Lose Medicaid Funding

Medicaid funding for a Houston hospital's renowned heart transplant program could be cut off in mid-August because it hasn't done enough to correct problems identified after the deaths of two patients, federal officials say.

The transplant program was temporarily suspended at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center after the deaths in May, but the hospital reopened the program on June 15 after concluding there were no "systemic issues related to the quality of the program."

The hospital said it was taking steps to improve the program, including changes to its transplant surgery team and to its rules for accepting patients for heart transplants.

But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says the hospital has failed to fix problems that put patients at risk and plans to halt funding for the heart transplant program on Aug. 17, according to the Houston Chronicle.

A statement released by St. Luke's says the hospital looks forward to discussing the issues with CMS officials, and that the hospital believes it is entitled to take additional corrective measures, including a systems improvement agreement, "which would provide a long-term path forward for our program," the AP reported.

This type of agreement is typically first offered by CMS, not requested by a hospital, and no such offer was made in the CMS letter to St. Luke's.

Under CMS rules, the hospital can appeal the loss of Medicare funding, but doing so won't halt the process, the AP reported.

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Posted: June 2018

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