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Study Finds Prospect of Financial Penalty Appears To Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates

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An AHRQ-funded study found that the prospect of financial penalties led hospitals to take steps that reduced patient readmissions. The study, published in December in JAMA, examined hospital readmission rates for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia among Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries before and after implementation of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services Hospital Readmission Reduction Program. The program, a part of the Affordable Care Act, started imposing financial penalties in October 2012 on hospitals with higher-than-expected readmissions. Before the program was announced, researchers found, readmission rates were mostly stable. After the program announcement in March 2010, however, hospitals subject to financial penalties reported significantly faster declines in readmissions than nonpenalized hospitals.

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