- More than half of US hospitals will again pay Medicare readmission penalties.
- The combined payments will total $420 milion.
- Beginning in October, 2,592 hospitals will also receive lower payments for every Medicare patient with a lengthy hospital stay, whether they are readmitted or not.
The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, was designed to make hospitals follow patients more closely after discharge.
Since the program's inception, readmission rates have dropped; however around one in five hospitalized Medicare patients are readmitted within 30 days.
The readmission penalties are not the only fines Medicare will impose on hospitals this year. As with last year, there will also be penalties, as well as bonuses, based on a variety of quality measures. Those have not yet been announced, but they, too, will begin in October. Medicare wil also fine hospitals with high infection rates and higher rates of other harmful events that are considered avoidable.