MedPAC’s latest thinking on hospital readmissions

The Incidental Economist: March 15, 2013

Earlier this month, MedPAC staff presented their latest thinking on the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). That’s the Medicare program that gives hospitals a small haircut for high rates of readmissions. I was not at the presentation, but the slides are online (PDF).

They raise several issues. I’ll focus on two. First, they note that low income patients have higher readmission rates due, perhaps, to reduced access to resources for post-hospitalization care. Their suggestion is not to adjust for income directly but to compare readmission rates among hospitals that treat a similar proportion of beneficiaries receiving cash assistance (SSI). They do not suggest changes based on any other socioeconomic factor. They note that race may also be relevant, but it’s effect is attenuated once income is accounted for. Read more