Overland Park Weight-Loss Hospital Sues After Government Cuts Off Medicare Funding

An Overland Park hospital that has specialized in weight-loss surgery is suing federal government health officials once they take off its involvement in Medicare. Blue Valley Hospital (BVH), an acute treatment service at 129th Metcalf and Road Avenue, claims to perform 35 percent of all Missouri Medicaid bariatric surgeries, the umbrella term for weight-loss operations. If it manages to lose its Medicare financing and down has to shut, “the residents of Missouri and Kansas will eventually lose access to crucial bariatric procedures, which are necessary to prevent a multitude of life-threatening and life-altering conditions,” the suit alleges.

In order to be included in Medicare, a hospital must “primarily engage” in providing services to inpatients. State health officials conducted an unannounced study of BVH last November and found it did not have any inpatients at that time. The officials’ subsequent record cited data provided by the hospital showing about 309 outpatient surgeries over a yearlong period, weighed against 146 inpatient surgeries. In its lawsuit, BVH says federal officials’ decision was “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of their discretion.” BVH is seeking an injunction to restore the status quo, declaring the hospital’s patients will normally suffer considerable and irreparable damage.

The lawsuit says that Medicare reimbursements are an essential part of BVH’s financing and private insurers might also stop paying if a healthcare facility isn’t Medicare-certified. It names Alex Azar II, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS);, and Jeff Hinson, the regional administrator of CMS.

Julie Brookhart, a spokeswoman for the regional office of CMS, said the agency does not touch upon pending lawsuits. The hospital’s CEO, Chris Dixon, said that none of CMS’ concerns related to patients’ security or care. He otherwise dropped to touch upon CMS’ move or the lawsuit. Dixon said the hospital was possessed by private shareholders, but he dropped to identify them. The hospital was incorporated in 2009 2009 by Douglas Palmer, who was simply its original CEO, and opened in 2010 2010. At the time, it primarily offered weight loss surgery, but Dixon said they have since extended to other areas. Palzer previously operated an ambulatory surgical center nearby specializing in weight loss.

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