Medicare Seeks To Curb Spending On Post-Hospital Care

KHN: DEC 01, 2013

his KHN story was produced in collaboration with wapo

After years of trying to clamp down on hospital spending, the federal government wants to get control over what Medicare spends on nursing homes, home health services and other medical care typically provided to patients after they have left the hospital.

Researchers have discovered huge discrepancies in how much is spent on these services in different areas around the country. In Connecticut, Medicare beneficiaries are more than twice as likely to end up in a nursing home as they are in Arizona. Medicare spends $8,800 on each Louisiana patient getting home health care, $5,000 more than it spends on the average New Jersey senior. In Chicago, one out of four Medicare beneficiaries receives additional services after leaving the hospital—three times the rate in Phoenix.

Medicare per capita spending on these services, collectively known as post-acute or post-hospital care, has grown at 5 percent a year or faster in 34 of the nation’s 50 most populous hospital markets in recent years, according to an analysis health care economist Chapin White conducted for Kaiser Health News. Read More