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Paying hospitals for high readmission rates

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In this New York Times article, "Hospitals Pay for Reducing Costly Readmissions," from May 8, 2009, Reed Abelson explores the paradox that hospitals with fewer readmissions lose revenue doing so:

But even when hospitals find ways to greatly reduce the return trips, saving money for Medicare and other insurers, their efforts go unrewarded. In fact, because insurers typically pay hospitals to treat patients — not to keep them away by keeping them healthy — hospitals can actually lose money by providing better care. Empty beds mean lost revenue.

The article continues on to say that the Senate is looking at ways to address this problem. Should hospitals receive payment that bundles payment for follow up care?  What is the best way to realign payment and incentives for hospitals?

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  1. Steve


    I am an ER doc.

    Here is my anecdotal data:

    Most of the bouncebacks I see are due to patients that do get better, but come back but because they are simply sick with multiple comorbidities. Its the acute care that is keeping alive long enough to come back.

    How long do we expect can the 80 year old, CHF, renal failure pt, really live in a NH without getting ill again? (My ED population is primarily elderly people.)

    Does anyone know what the time period is that determines if something is a readmission?

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    Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

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