By Mark Tosczak

UPDATE: Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have rescinded the Medicare termination for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, the federal agency told the health system it must fix problems with its pathology lab by June 12, or be cut off, NC Health News learned Thursday from CMS.

Wake Forest Baptist Health didn’t mention the June 12 deadline in a statement it issued this week. For the full update, see our story here:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has rescinded its decision to cut off Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center from the Medicare program, the health system said in a statement Wednesday.

“CMS made its decision after surveyors returned to Wake Forest Baptist last month and found corrective actions in place and evidence of ongoing monitoring and improvement,” Dr. Kevin P. High, president of Wake Forest Baptist Health, said in an emailed statement. “Physicians and patient advocates at Wake Forest Baptist continue to provide information and care to those concerned about their diagnoses following biopsy or surgical removal of tissue, and other teams continue to work on improvements to ensure the quality of care and safety of our patients.”

High said the system had received a letter from CMS on Monday notifying them of the decision.

Medicare officials decided in March to cut the hospital off from Medicare billing after they were notified of errors in the health system’s pathology lab. Hospital managers last fall discovered errors that affected the diagnosis and treatment of 10 patients.

Wake Forest Baptist said that most, if not all, of the errors could be attributed to a single person who no longer works in the health system.

Blocking a health care provider from billing Medicare is one of the most powerful sanctions CMS has, as Medicare is the single largest health care payor in the country. In its 2016-2017 fiscal year, Wake Forest Baptist earned $680.4 million from the program — almost a third of its revenues.

In his statement, High said the health system expects government inspectors to return in a few months to confirm that the changes Wake Forest Baptist has made to its pathology procedures are still in place.

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Mark Tosczak

Mark Tosczak has worked as a writer and communications professional for more than 20 years, including stints as a newspaper reporter and editor, think tank communications director, marketing agency vice...