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CMS adds 20 more organizations to care transitions program

By Rachel Landen
Posted: March 7, 2013 - 6:00 pm ET

Twenty more organizations will join the 82 already participating in the CMS's community-based care transitions program, launched in 2011 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The program was designed to reduce hospital readmissions among high-risk Medicare beneficiaries. Close to one in five Medicare patients—or about 2.6 million seniors—are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge. That comes at a cost of more than $26 billion a year, the government estimates.

With the 20 additional sites, the program will be offering care transition services to more than 700,000 patients in 40 states.

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Community-based organizations involved in the program work with the CMS to provide support to patients as they transition from hospitals to their homes, a nursing home or other care facility. Participants enter into a two-year contract with the CMS Innovation Center and are paid a flat fee per beneficiary out of the $500 million the program is authorized to spend over the five-year period.

“Reducing costly avoidable hospital readmissions is priority at CMS,” CMS acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a news release. “When a patient leaves a hospital, coordinated care among doctors and other providers is a key tool to preventing complications that can arise.”

CMS officials recently estimated that initiatives in the healthcare reform law, including the care transition program, prevented 70,000 Medicare readmissions in 2012.

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