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St. Agnes to request OK for free day, state says


St. Agnes Hospital will apply to change its maternity room rates, the director of the state's hospital rate-setting commission said.

The hospital declined comment yesterday.

On Monday, St. Agnes announced it would provide a second day free for newborns and mothers. Many insurers cover only a 24-hour stay after normal births.

But Robert Murray, director of the Health Services Cost Review Commission, said St. Agnes could not offer the free day without formally requesting a change in rates and demonstrating it was not shifting costs onto other patients to cover the free days.

After two meetings this week between commission and St. Agnes staff, Mr. Murray said he thought there might be some ways St. Agnes could achieve its goals within the rules. For example, he said, Greater Baltimore Medical Center won approval recently to offer a flat rate on normal births.

Anita L. Olfson, director of public relations for St. Agnes, said yesterday in response to Mr. Murray's comments, "As far as we're concerned, it's still in the negotiation stage, and we're not going to make any comment."

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