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KHN: Medicare Fines Half of Hospitals for Readmitting Too Many Patients

Nearly half the nation’s hospitals will receive lower payments for all Medicare patients because of their history of readmitting patients, federal records show, writes Kaiser Health News.

The penalties are the ninth annual round of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program created as part of the Affordable Care Act’s broader effort to improve quality and lower costs. The latest penalties are calculated using each hospital case history between July 2016 and June 2019 (pre-covid).

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced in September it may suspend the penalty program in the future if the chaos surrounding the pandemic, including the spring’s moratorium on elective surgeries, makes it too difficult to assess hospital performance. For this year, the penalties remain in effect. Retroactive to the federal fiscal year that began Oct. 1, Medicare will lower a year’s worth of payments to 2,545 hospitals, the data show.

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