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Medicare Readmissions Penalties Show Signs of Hitting Safety-Net Hospitals Hardest

Penalties assessed by Medicare’s hospital readmissions reduction program appear to be falling especially hard on hospitals that serve large numbers of low-income patients.

This is the conclusion reached by researchers analyzing the program’s impact on California hospitals.  There, they found that most of the state’s hospitals that paid the stiffest penalties for Medicare readmissions are located in areas with large populations of low-income patients.

The article “Medicare penalizes hospitals with high readmissions,” published by the Center for Health Reporting, notes that

Several of the hospitals paying big penalties this year are scattered up and down the sprawling Central Valley, from Tulare to Oroville, a region known for chronic health problems such as obesity and diabetes.

Others serve under-privileged Los Angeles area neighborhoods that also have health challenges and lack the medical networks of wealthier communities.

The National Association of Urban Hospitals (NAUH) has long maintained that the penalties levied under Medicare’s hospital readmissions reduction program unfairly target urban safety-net hospitals, which care for disproportionately large numbers of low-income patients whose post-discharge needs are especially complicated by their lack of resources and available community supports.

Learn more about how Medicare’s goals for reducing preventable hospital readmissions are clashing with real-world health care challenges here, on the Center for Health Reporting’s web site.Wheelchair

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