Modern Healthcare reports:
“Nestled within the 994 pages of the 21st Century Cures Act … is an opportunity for hospitals to change the way they are judged when patients are unnecessarily readmitted.
“The law requires Medicare to account for patient backgrounds when it calculates reductions in its payments to hospitals under the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program.
“Until the passage of the Cures Act, originally meant for biomedical innovation but turned into a smorgasbord of healthcare policies, thorny questions about adjusting for patient demographics had been avoided.
“Hospitals have been at fault if, within 30 days after discharge, patients return to the hospital for the same reason they were originally admitted. But some hospitals are located in impoverished areas, and many of their patients cannot afford to buy medication or healthy food, or they lack transportation to attend checkups with primary-care doctors.
“Nevertheless, unless a hospital’s readmission rate falls below the national average, it will face financial penalties under the program.
“Hospital and medical groups hope the 21st Century Cures Act will ensure funds are not unduly taken from hospitals that need it most. Policy experts, however, say that the effectiveness of risk adjustment depends on the details of its implementation, which are scant in the legislation.’
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