Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program

Health Affairs: NOVEMBER 12, 2013
To improve care and lower costs, Medicare imposes a financial penalty on hospitals with excess readmissions.

What’s The Issue?
Policy makers are constantly searching for ways to improve the quality of patient care and lower Medicare program spending. One indicator of inadequate quality that results in increased Medicare spending is the rate of readmissions to a hospital. Readmission refers to a patient’s being admitted to a hospital within a certain time period from an initial admission. In the context of Medicare, readmissions have been generally defined as a patient’s being hospitalized within 30 days of an initial hospital stay. If a hospital has a high proportion of patients readmitted within a short time frame, it may be an indication of inadequate quality of care in the hospital or a lack of appropriate coordination of postdischarge care. Although not all readmissions can be prevented, research shows that there are strategies that hospitals can employ to avert many readmissions. Read More