Hospitals face new financial penalties this week if they fail to prevent avoidable readmissions among Medicare patients.
Since October 2012, hospitals have been penalized when heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia patients return to the hospital within 30 days. Starting Wednesday, that fine goes up to 3%, from the 1% penalty incurred when the program started. In addition, unplanned readmissions for patients who received a total hip or knee replacement or have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will trigger penalties for the first time. The readmission penalties have been credited with helping keep Medicare cost growth at historic lows.
“More hospitals are getting penalized and more hospitals are getting bigger penalties,” said Hiten Patel, managing director at The Advisory Board Company.