Penalties for Medicare Readmission High in Hospitals

Hospitals that primarily serve Medicare patients are being unfairly penalized for readmission rates. Medicare patients often lack needed medications as well as access to doctors who can monitor their recuperation. This frequently leads to the higher readmission rates due to health complications. Kaiser Health News reports:

The financial penalties that Medicare imposes on hospitals with high rates of patient readmissions are too harsh for hospitals serving the poor and should be changed, according to a congressional advisory agency.

Since last fall, Medicare has been reducing its payments to 2,213 hospitals under a provision in the health care law that aims to improve quality at the nation's hospitals. The penalties kick in when patients with heart failure, heart attack or pneumonia are readmitted at higher than expected rates within 30 days.

While the Medicare policy seems to be having an effect - facilities are scurrying to keep better tabs on their high-risk patients after discharge - some hospital officials and other experts say the penalties are unfair because hospitals that treat the poorest patients are getting hit harder than others.

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