Medicare to Penalize Hospitals That Readmit Patients Too Soon

Medicare soon will start docking payments to hospitals if they have a higher-than-expected level of patient readmissions within 30 days of being discharged. The move doesn’t bode well for 10 California hospitals already identified by Medicare as having high readmission rates for patients with pneumonia or heart failure. The federal program is making the change, which is one goal of health reform, to get a handle on a costly aspect of patient care and increase hospitals’ accountability in coordinating after-care for patients. The program has been keeping data on instances when heart failure, heart attack and pneumonia patients return to hospitals fewer than 30 days after they were discharged.

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