Hospitals’ Readmissions Rates Not Budging By Jordan Rau, KHN Staff Writer, JUL 19, 2012

This story was produced in collaboration with wapo

The nation’s hospitals are making little headway in reducing the frequency at which patients are readmitted despite a campaign by the government and the threat of financial penalties, according to Medicare data released Thursday.

The government and health policy experts consider frequent readmissions a sign of the shortcomings of the nation’s health care system, with one in five Medicare patients returning to the hospital within a month of discharge. Medicare in October will begin to penalize hospitals with higher than expected readmission rates as required by the 2010 federal health law.

“We’ve put all of this policy effort into this area, and yet we’re seeing no movement,” said Ashish Jha, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. “Either we have no idea how to really improve readmissions, or most of the readmissions are not preventable and the efforts being put on it are not useful.” Read more