Readmission Penalties

image141More than 2,600 hospitals have been fined because too many Medicare patients being treated for heart failure, heart attack, pneu- monia, elective hip and knee replacement readmissions and chronic lung disease. As part of their Hospital Readmission Reduc- tion Program, Medicare reduced payments to hospitals that had high readmission rates. The program intended to provide incen- tives for hospitals to reduce readmissions and improve the quality of their care, but research has shown that patients are often readmitted for reasons beyond the control of hospitals. Poor or medically complex patients are at a higher risk for readmissions because of socioeconomic and health factors. If patients can’t afford medications, or have unstable housing situations, they may end up being readmitted. No interventions to date have effectively reduced COPD read- missions, so it’s unclear what a hospital cado to prevent them.