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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rehospitalization Rates Fell In First Year Of Medicare Penalties

Today's post was shared by Kaiser Health News and comes from

During the first eight months of this year, fewer than 18 percent of Medicare patients ended up back in the hospital within a month of discharge, the lowest rate in years, the government reported Friday. This drop occurred during the first year that Medicare financially penalized hospitals for their readmission rates, and the government seized on the decrease as evidence the incentives are having an effect.

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The government is targeting rehospitalizations as a significant indicator of gaps in medical quality in the nation’s hospitals. While some elderly patients inevitably return to the hospital, the government and some researchers believe many of those returns are avoidable if hospitals monitor patients after their release to ensure they get appropriate medications and follow-up visits with doctors.
In the first year of the program, which began in August 2012, Medicare fined 2,213 hospitals—about two-thirds of those it evaluated— for higher than anticipated readmission rates. Last August, Medicare issued a second year of penalties against 2,225 hospitals. The maximum penalties created by the health law have risen from 1 percent of regular Medicare payments to 2 percent, and they will increase for a third and final time next August to 3 percent.
The new data reported by Medicare show that readmission rates for the first eight months of 2013 dropped below 18 percent, half a percentage point below 2012’s rate of 18.5 percent. From 2007 to...
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