Post-Acute Care for Medicare Beneficiaries

The quality of care coordination is important to the United States healthcare system as hospital readmission rates are being further scrutinized. When hospital readmission rates are high, it is often the result of poorly coordinated care across the full continuum of care settings, from EDs and ICUs to primary care and outpatient settings. As care is better coordinated, it is more likely that these rates will be reduced. “Improving the coordination of care for patients is also important to Medicare and to hospitals,” says David C. Goodman, MD, MS. “Medicare patients who return to hospitals shortly after they’ve been discharged add substantial costs to Medicare that could be avoided with better post-discharge care.” CMS estimates that the cost of avoidable readmissions is more than $17 billion per year. In the coming months, there are plans in place to reduce Medicare payments for readmissions if hospitals have higher-than-expected 30-day readmission rates for patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), congestive heart failure (CHF), or pneumonia. In 2013, hospitals face a penalty equal to 1% of their total Medicare billings if an excessive number of patients are readmitted. The penalty rises to 2% in 2014 and 3% in 2015. Hospitals Currently Struggling In September 2011, the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice released the Dartmouth Atlas report, which analyzed readmission rates among Medicare patients for AMI, CHF, pneumonia, and other hospital discharges between 2003 and 2009. Researchers examined the records of 10.7 million Medicare patient hospital discharges and found little progress during the study period. Patients hospitalized for CHF, pneumonia, surgery, hip fractures, or other medical conditions had 2009 readmission...