Study Finds CMS’ Hospital Readmission Penalties Worked Under Affordable Care Act
A good sign that ACA is working in some cases to lower health care costs for everyone.
In 2012, Medicare began using a new tactic to get hospitals to reduce costly, unnecessary readmissions: It fined them. The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, established in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, allows the CMS to withhold inpatient prospective payments to short-term acute hospitals with excessive readmissions for certain conditions.Since then, debate has ensued over whether the program is effective at improving hospitals’ quality of care. Opponents cite concerns about unintended consequences and unfair penalties for institutions that serve sicker patients, while the government maintains that its efforts have born fruit. A new study, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that hospital readmissions across the U.S. indeed declined starting with the ACA, and that moreover, hospitals with the highest readmission rates before 2010 improved the most in the years following.