When the 21st Century Cures Act last year included a provision requiring Medicare to account for patient backgrounds when it calculated hospital readmission penalties, safety-net providers rejoiced.
But the CMS recently estimated the policy would do little to help providers who feel they are unfairly penalized because they see a disproportionate number of low-income and sick patients.
The continuing debate over the relevance of socio-economics on a person's health comes as hospitals are hit with the highest amount of penalties they've ever seen under the 4-year-old readmissions reduction program.
Hospitals face $564 million in readmission penalties next year. That's up $27 million from this fiscal year.
Hospitals are at fault if, within 30 days after discharge, patients return to the hospital for the same reason they were originally admitted.