Hospitals Question Fairness of New Medicare Rule
New health management regulations that began in October 2012 involve more follow up care for patients in an effort to reduce numbers of people being readmitted to hospitals. Criticism is growing for the government program and requirements that penalizes hospitals for readmissions after treating certain illnesses (heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia).
The new policy is aimed at saving the government money for costs associated with readmissions- assuming that readmissions are the result of poor care or people being discharged too soon. Hospitals now are responsible for better at-home care instructions, scheduling appointments for follow ups before the patient is discharged, and making health status inquires of recently discharged patients. Medical costs are also closely tied to socioeconomic aspects of the patient’s life such as whether they have a safe place to go after the hospital. Do they have food and proper nourishment? Do they have the means of getting to follow up care appointments?
Hospitals that are most likely to see penalties are those that serve the greatest number of patients in the lowest socioeconomic brackets. Readmission rates are not always the best measure of the type of care being delivered. The article points out that hospitals with high death rates may be delivering horrible care- but they would avoid readmission penalties.