Readmissions Penalties Grow Higher for 2,600 Hospitals Fined

More than 2,600 hospitals across the U.S. are being fined under Medicare for having too many patients return within 30 days of discharge.

While readmissions rates are dropping year over year, the penalty count, the third round of which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services has conducted since the readmissions reductions efforts began in 2012, surpasses the previous count and amounts to more hospitals receiving more penalties than ever before, according to a report by Kaiser Health News based on government data released this week.

CMS first issued penalties under the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program in 2012, with 2,217 hospitals penalized.

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Of those being penalized this year, 39 hospitals will receive the highest penalty: 2% of their Medicare reimbursements.

Estimates have placed the cost of preventable readmissions to a ballpark of $17 billion.

For those subject to the penalties, they will receive 2% less in Medicare reimbursements for all patients—not just those who are readmitted. The fines will amount to about $428 million, according to Medicare estimates.

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Senior living providers are working to help reduce readmissions among their resident populations, and many are taking efforts to implement programs within their communities to help patients recover following hospital stays. Post-acute care, whether delivered in a community setting or home setting, has been suggested as a major driver of readmissions reductions by industry leaders in health care.

A recent partnership between post-acute care provider Mainstreet and Health Care REIT will develop dozens of new communities focused on the post-acute model developed by Mainstreet that also provides a select number of senior living units and long-term care beds.

Sunrise Senior Living has also rolled out a program this year toward partnership with hospitals in part to drive readmissions down and provide care to post-acute patients in Sunrise communities.

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Written by Elizabeth Ecker