Hospitals to face Medicare penalties for readmissions beginning in 2012

Hospitals with higher than expected readmission rates for patients treated for heart failure, heart attack or pneumonia will face Medicare penalties beginning in 2012, according to the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Project. 

The article states that for patients readmitted for these conditions, starting in October 2012, Medicare payments will be reduced by up to 1 percent, and then 2 percent the following year and 3 percent the next. 

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine examined readmissions from Medicare claims data from 2003–2004.  The study found that almost twenty percent of Medicare patients were readmitted after discharge at an estimated cost of 17.4 billion dollars.   

Hospitals and health systems across the nation are working on ways to reduce readmissions.  

(Sources: Kaiser Daily Health Policy Project, http://kaiserhealthnews.org, February 22, 2011; The New England Journal of Medicine, http://www.nejm.org, April, 2009)