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Nurses Blast Hospital Charges

A nurses' union says some hospitals are charging exorbitant rates, in certain cases more than 10 times more than what they need to cover costs, according to its analysis of Medicare Cost Reports.

Florida Orange Park Medical Center tops the list for Florida, the Florida Times-Union reports.

The group says Florida has the second highest hospital charges in the nation, with an average charge-to-cost ratio of 555%. The Tampa Bay Business Journalreports six of the 10 most expensive hospitals in the nation  are owned by either Health Management Associates or Community Health Systems Inc. Those two chains are expected to merge in the coming months.

National Nurses United published this list of what it says are the most expensive charges in Florida (by total charges as a percent of total costs):

1. Orange Park Medical Center (HCA) 1,139%

2. North Okaloosa Medical Center (Community Health Systems, Inc.) 1,137%

3. Brooksville Regional Hospital (Health Management Associates), 1,083%

4. Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center (Health Management Associates),  1,058%

5. Oak Hill Hospital (HCA), 1,052%

6. St. Petersburg General (HCA), 1,046%

7. Ft. Walton Beach Medical Center (HCA), 1,043%

8. Lawnwood Regional Medical Center (HCA) 1,001%

9. North Florida Regional Medical Center (HCA) 973%

10. Gulf Coast Medical Center (HCA), 927%         

As the Northwest Florida Daily News reports, hospitals are criticizing the methodology used by National Nurses United, saying the analysis didn’t consider all the factors that influence what they charge, including charity care. North Okaloosa Medical Center CEO David Fuller points out that Medicare and other insurance companies pay a negotiated rate.

“‘Charge’ in today’s healthcare arena doesn’t really mean anything,”  Fuller told the Daily News.

National Nurses United says even with negotiations between insurers and hospitals, “ the higher the charges, the greater the ultimate reimbursement that insurers pay.”

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.