Noteworthy News

Cures Law Addresses Shortcomings in Readmissions Program

The 21st Century Cures Act passed last December includes a provision that addresses perceived inequities in Medicare’s readmissions reduction program.

Those inequities centered around holding safety-net hospitals, thought to care for more medically and socially challenging patients than the typical hospital, to the same standard as those typical hospitals when assessing penalties under Medicare’s hospital readmissions reduction program.

While proponents of addressing this perceived inequity focused on addressing it through socio-economic risk adjustment, the Cures Act took another approach, as a recent article on the Health Affairs Blog explained:

The Cures Act changes this by instructing HHS to set different penalty thresholds for hospitals, based on the portion of Medicare-Medicaid dual eligible patients that are served by a hospital. What is critical to note is that this law – in contrast to prior proposals, which argued for changes to the readmissions measures – directly mitigates the impact of penalties on safety-net hospitals.

This approach, observers notes, should address the problem without holding safety-net hospitals to a lower standard for quality.

NAUH has long advocated finding a way to reform the readmissions reduction program to reflect the special challenges urban safety-net hospitals face when serving socio-economically disadvantaged communities.

Learn more about how the Cures Act addresses the problems with how Medicare’s readmissions reduction program treats safety-net hospitals in the Health Affairs Blog article “Tucked Away In The Cures Act, A Better Option For Addressing Readmission Penalties For Safety-Net Providers,” which can be found here.

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