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Is your hospital’s revolving door turning too quickly?

medicare-pillEach year, more than a million Americans wind up back in the hospital within 30 days after leaving for reasons that could have been prevented. That includes one in five Medicare hospital patients.

Medicare has begun penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates for patients being treated for heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia — new categories will be added in the future — and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced the second round of penalties, which will be exacted during the next fiscal year.

If you want to see how your hospital stacks up, Kaiser Health News has analyzed and published the data in easy-lookup form. Its chart includes the penalties for both years and the percentage change from 2013 to 2014.

A few caveats: No hospitals in Maryland were penalized because the state has a unique reimbursement arrangement with Medicare. Also exempt are certain cancer hospitals, critical access hospitals (typically in rural areas) and hospitals dedicated to psychiatry, rehabilitation, long-term care and veterans.

Medicare distributed a total of $227 million in penalties for fiscal 2014 to the 2,255 hospitals on the list. The worst offenders will get their payments cut 2 percent. The average fine was 0.38 percent.

“Many of the hospitals we work with are scrambling to put measures in place to reduce their rate of readmissions, to the extent they can,” Chas Roades, chief research officer of The Advisory Board Company, a consulting group based in Washington, told KHN. “The financial penalties aren’t huge right now, but hospital leaders recognize that the penalties will get bigger, and that scrutiny over readmissions rates will continue to grow.”

 

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