A federal judge in Philadelphia on Thursday turned down Wills Eye Hospital's bid to win certification as a hospital under Medicare.
U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno said in a 25-page memorandum that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was within its rights when it decided in 2013 that Wills did not provide enough inpatient care to qualify as a hospital.
Qualifying as a hospital would allow Wills to charge more. Its current status as an ambulatory surgery center also prevents it from performing certain complex procedures at its Ninth and Walnut Street facility in Center City.
Wills said in a statement that it was disappointed by the decision.
"Having a designation as a hospital is a critical element in Wills' ability to provide inpatient care because Wills treats some of the most complex and difficult cases in the world," the nonprofit, which is owned by the Board of City Trusts, said. "We have made no decision at this point about next steps, which could include seeking a review of the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit."
Wills said the judge's decision will cause no immediate change to the services at its Center City facility.
The federal regulators and Wills had both asked for summary judgment in the case. Oral arguments were held on Jan. 11.
Under new guidance issued in September on what qualifies as a hospital, Wills still has a small chance of gaining hospital certification. The new guidance said that "hospitals are not required to have a specific inpatient-to-outpatient ratio" to meet the criteria as a hospital.