Revised Medicare Penalties Hit Some States Hard

Kaiser Health News: By Jordan Rau, OCTOBER 22, 2012

Medicare’s readmissions penalties are falling hardest on hospitals in New Jersey, New York, Arkansas, Mississippi and the District of Columbia, a Kaiser Health News analysis of updated government data shows.

Medicare revised its penalties from the new Readmissions Reduction Program at the end of September after discovering it had made small errors in its calculations affecting more than 1,400 hospitals. The end results of those alterations were minor, and KHN’s new analysis shows that the geographic distribution of penalties around the country did not change in any significant way after Medicare corrected its punishments.

A total of 2,217 hospitals, or 71 percent of those eligible, are receiving penalties for having too many patients with heart attacks, heart failure or pneumonia return within 30 days. Only hospitals with at least 25 heart failure, heart attack or pneumonia cases for Medicare to evaluate were eligible. (Medicare also excluded critical access hospitals, certain cancer hospitals and all hospitals in Maryland and Puerto Rico.) A total of 307 hospitals received the maximum penalty: a reduction of 1 percent in all of Medicare’s reimbursements for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Read more