Hospitals which tend to serve more low-income patients are getting a break from Congress in fiscal year 2019, which started on Oct. 1.
Medicare will ease its annual readmissions penalties, which were a signature part of the Affordable Care Act’s effort to encourage better care.
Safety-net hospitals, which serve larger numbers of low-income patients, have argued the sanctions adversely affect them.
Penalties levied against safety-net hospitals in fiscal year 2019 will drop by a fourth on average from fiscal year 2018, according to NPR.
“It’s pretty clear they were really penalizing those institutions more than they needed to,” Atul Grover, MD, executive vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, told NPR. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
The significant change from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) groups hospitals into one of five peer groups with similar percentages of low-income patients, rather than judging readmission performance against all hospitals.
CMS will assess penalties or dock payments to more than half the hospitals in the nation (2,599) in the fiscal year 2019 based on readmissions from the prior fiscal year.
The hospital industry remains critical of the overall program, saying that stripping hospitals of revenue because of poor performance only makes it harder for them to care for patients.
Read more at NPR.org.
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