Hospitals Tally Likely Costs From New Readmissions Penalties

kaiserhealthnews.org: By Jordan Rau. AUGUST 24TH, 2012, 8:32 AM

Across the country, hospitals are estimating how much money they are going to forfeit when Medicare’s new penalties for excess readmissions kick in. Hospitals are also issuing divergent verdicts on whether they think the program is a good idea or not.

Starting in October, 2,211 hospitals will lose a portion of their regular Medicare reimbursements because too many of their heart failure, heart attack or pneumonia patients in past years were readmitted within a month of discharge. Medicare expects to recoup $280 million during the first year of the program, which was created by the health care law.

In Columbus, Ohio, where Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center will lose 0.64 percent of its reimbursements, chief financial officer Michael Rutherford told the Columbus Dispatch that the penalty will cost the hospital about $700,000, or less than a tenth of 1 percent of the hospital’s total revenue. He welcomed the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program as a “real important initiative.” Read more