Medicare may cover veteran's $20,000 bill for his hip surgery VA hospital shut him out, so he got care at Mercy.

June 26, 1992

Medicare may soon rescue the 64-year-old Baltimore veteran who piled up more than $20,000 in hospital bills at the Mercy Medical Center after the Veterans Administration Hospital on Loch Raven Boulevard could not admit him for hip surgery.

The man filled out the Medicare applications yesterday, and no approvals have been issued. But Dr. Joseph A. Mead Jr., medical director at Mercy, said "the chances look overwhelmingly that he'll be able to qualify for assistance."

The unidentified veteran, whose plight was reported in an article yesterday's Evening Sun, had his broken hip repaired last weekend.

He was treated at Mercy, where he was not covered by insurance, because the Loch Raven VA Hospital has closed its non-emergency orthopedic service for 11 days. The service was closed until July 1 while the hospital changes its affiliations from Johns Hopkins Hospital to the University of Maryland Medical System.

Had the VA admitted the man, the surgery would have been performed at the VA's expense.

Medicare coverage is normally available only after age 65, but can be extended to certain younger individuals who are disabled.

Dr. Meade said Medicare "won't adequately cover the [surgeon's] bill. He [the veteran] may have some problems with that.

"But as far as the hospital is concerned, I don't think he will have to pay."

The man's surgeon, Dr. Kenneth R. Lippman, has said he would not insist on payment in the case.

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