Hospitals To Face More Severe Penalties For Patients' Readmissions

News coverage continues regarding the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' hospital readmissions reduction program with details of a final rule released Friday and a local look at how hospitals are faring in Georgia and Missouri.  

Modern Healthcare: Severity Of Readmission Punishments Doubling For Hospitals
The number of hospitals facing financial penalties for failing to stop patients from returning to the hospital will remain steady next year, but the potential severity of the punishments is doubling. The CMS' hospital readmissions reduction program is expected to cut Medicare spending on hospitals by about $227 million during the federal fiscal year starting Oct. 1, according to a 2,225-page final rule published Friday afternoon (Carlson, 8/5).

Georgia Health News: Most Hospitals In State Face Readmission Fines
Medicare will impose fines on 73 Georgia hospitals for excessive readmissions of patients within 30 days of discharge. Kaiser Health News reported that 68 percent of eligible hospitals in the state received a penalty — roughly the national average (Miller, 8/5).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Most St. Louis Area Hospitals Improve Readmissions
Readmission rates at Barnes-Jewish Hospital have improved, but the hospital still faces a federal penalty of more than $1 million. Similarly, most other St. Louis-area hospitals have reduced their numbers of Medicare patients who are readmitted within a month of discharge. But those hospitals, too, will pay substantial fines over the next year (Doyle, 8/5).

Earlier, related KHN coverage: Armed With Bigger Fines, Medicare To Punish 2,225 Hospitals For Excess Readmissions (Rau, 8/2).  

In other news related to Medicare and health care quality -

Medpage Today: Doc's Level Of Liability Worry Drives Testing
Office-based physicians who reported a high level of concern about medical malpractice lawsuits were more likely to practice defensive medicine, ordering aggressive diagnostic testing, a review of Medicare claims and physician surveys found. For instance, physicians with a high or medium level of malpractice concern were more likely to refer patients with chest pain to the ED (3.4 percent and 3.7 percent respectively) than were physicians with a low level of malpractice concern (2.5 percent). Both differences were significant atP≤0.05, according to a study published in the August issue of Health Affairs (Pittman, 8/5).

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