Penalties Push Hospitals to Reduce Readmissions, Medicare to Fine 2,225

The Medicare penalty program (based on readmissions of patients within 30 days who originally went into the hospital with at least heart attack, heart failure, or pneumonia), will levy $227 million in fines from 2,225 hospitals starting on October 1, 2013, writes Kaiser Health News.

While the overall number of penalized hospitals has stayed roughly the same since 2012, there has been considerable shifts in fines among the facilities.  

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), which reports to Congress, has estimated that 12 percent of Medicare patients may be readmitted for potentially avoidable reasons. Averting one out of every 10 of those returns could save Medicare $1 billion, MedPAC says.

Dr. Eric Coleman, a director of the Care Transitions Program at University of Colorado and Hartford grantee, said more hospitals are taking readmissions seriously, in part because of the penalties. "People are starting to recognize that renaming discharge planning does not actually improve your readmissions rate," said Coleman, who designed a widely adopted method to reduce readmissions by coaching patients on what they need to do to stay healthy after leaving the hospital. "Hospitals have moved past 'is this for real' or 'should we do something.'"

Read the full article here.