Medicare Begins Latest Pay-For-Performance Effort; Hospital Readmissions Among Program Targets

Medicare is beginning to withhold funding if hospitals readmit too many patients within 30 days of their release. It's part of a broader federal push to improve health care quality.   

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Medicare's Pay For Performance Effort Begins, Targeting Quality And Readmissions
Monday is the start of the federal fiscal year, and with it begins Medicare's biggest effort yet at paying for performance. Starting Oct. 1, Medicare is withholding 1 percent of its regular hospital reimbursements in the new Value-Based Purchasing Program, which was created by the 2010 health care law (Rau, 10/1).

The Washington Post: Hospitals In DC, Va. To Lose Millions From Medicare
Hospitals in the District and Northern Virginia will lose millions of dollars in Medicare funding over the next year because too many of their patients were re-admitted to a hospital within weeks of being released, according to Medicare data and interviews with hospital officials (Sun, 9/30).

The Associated Press: Medicare Fines Over Hospitals' Readmitted Patients
If you or an elderly relative have been hospitalized recently and noticed extra attention when the time came to be discharged, there's more to it than good customer service. As of Monday, Medicare will start fining hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge due to complications. The penalties are part of a broader push under President Barack Obama's health care law to improve quality while also trying to save taxpayers money. About two-thirds of the hospitals serving Medicare patients, or some 2,200 facilities, will be hit with penalties averaging around $125,000 per facility this coming year, according to government estimates (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/1).

Politico: Reform Law Seeks Savings In Hospital Operations
Two major but little discussed programs in the 2010 health care law take effect Monday, part of the law's efforts to deliver better medical care in addition to more insurance. Both programs are part of an effort to leverage the financial might of Medicare to reward hospitals for providing more efficient and higher quality care and penalize those that don't (Norman, 10/1).

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