“A new government program was supposed to prevent certain Medicare recipients from cycling in and out of hospitals. Now experts worry some older patients are being denied necessary care.”
Credit: Craig Frazier
by Paula Span
“It was a well-intended policy. Almost all parties agree on that much.
“A decade ago, when Medicare beneficiaries were discharged from hospitals, one in five returned within a month.
“Older people faced the risks of hospitalization all over again: infections, deconditioning, delirium, subsequent nursing home stays. And preventable readmissions were costing Medicare a bundle.
“So the Affordable Care Act incorporated something called the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which focused on three serious ailments with high readmission rates: heart failure, heart attacks and pneumonia.
“The A.C.A. penalized hospitals — withholding up to three percent of Medicare payments — when readmissions within 30 days exceeded national averages.”
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