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While Medicare Cuts Payment to 2583 Hospitals, Debate Continues Whether HRRP Improves Patient Safety

Kaiser Health News writes Medicare cut payments to 2,583 hospitals Tuesday. The severity and broad application of the penalties, which Medicare estimates will cost hospitals $563 million over a year, follows the trend of the past few years. Of the 3,129 general hospitals evaluated in the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP), 83% received a penalty, which will be deducted from each payment for a Medicare patient stay over the fiscal year that begins today.

Although Medicare began applying the penalties in 2012, disagreements continue about whether they have improved patient safety. On the positive side, they have encouraged hospitals to focus on how their patients recuperate, and some now assist them in procuring medications and follow-up appointments. But the hospital industry and some academics have raised concerns that some hospitals may be avoiding readmitting patients who require additional inpatient care out of fear of the financial repercussions, while others have said the program is not showing major benefits.

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