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CU letter to OR House Healthcare Committee

April 5, 2007
House Healthcare Committee
Oregon House of Representatives
State Capitol
Salem, OR

Dear Members of the House Healthcare Committee:
We are writing in strong support for HB2524, which will let Oregonians know the hospital infection rates of their local hospital compared to others in the state. We are convinced that passage of this bill will improve healthcare quality dramatically in our state.
We are pleased that the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems agrees that publication of infection rates is an important and needed step toward improved patient safety.
We support several amendments (attached) to strengthen the legislation so that the public will be assured that infection rates are to be published on three of the most common hospital-acquired infections (SSI, BSI, UTI). We ask for your support and help to make these few changes.
State funding will be necessary for an effective and reliable infection rate report. It is our understanding that the current estimate needed to implement the reporting system is $300,000, which is equivalent to the experience of one Oregonian, Tom Vallier of Hood River. Tom got an infection while in the hospital in 2001, which required three additional surgeries. His hospital bill was over $240,000 and his continuing need for medical care has pushed his total healthcare bill over $300,000.
Further, the direct cost to the state in payments through publicly funded insurance coverage for state employees and people covered by Medicaid and SCHIP is significant. The Office for Oregon Health Policy and Research reported that from 2003-2005, an estimated 1281 hospital patients got an infection while being treated there for something else. OPHR estimates that these infections cost the state Medicaid program $2.4 million in 2005, and at least $8.1 million over the three-year period. The cost to all payers statewide is substantially more – an estimated $47 million for the three years.
In OPHR’s Research Brief, the agency estimated the average cost per stay ranges from $32,000 to $71,038 higher for a patient with a healthcare associated infection compared to a patient without an infection. The report states, “At minimum, these estimates of excess costs represent an opportunity to redirect scarce resources currently spent treating HAI.”
Public reporting will inform consumers but just as important, it will result in substantial improvement, over time, to the Oregon healthcare industry. Hospital-acquired infections can be prevented, reducing deaths and saving significant taxpayer dollars. We urge you to strengthen HB2524 and support the investment needed to put this important patient safety initiative in place.
Lisa McGiffert, Project Manager
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports
Tom and Dee Dee Vallier
Americans Mad and Angry, (“the other AMA”)
A nonprofit, public interest organization fighting for safety, disclosure and accountability in healthcare.
Amend HB2524-6 as follows:
(1) On page 4, line 23, delete “may” and insert “shall”
EXPLANATION: This ensures that specific measures will be reported, rather than making such reporting permissive. Subsection (f) on page 5, lines 12-13, allows the Office with the help of the advisory committee to establish a timetable to phase in disclosure of the various rates and process measures.
(2) Page 6, line 8, between “infection” and “measures” insert rates and process
EXPLANATION: This section spells out what information is to be included in the public report. The language should specifically state that infection rates will be provided, along with other measures. Otherwise, the bill does not require the public report to include infection rates. The only place in the bill that speaks to “infection rates” is on page 2, line 10; that section requires the healthcare facilities to report rates, as well as other information, to OHPR. We believe the intent of this section is to require the facilities to report data to OHPR so that OHPR can calculate the rates in a uniform manner for all hospitals.