Many hospitals are still hit with the same penalties under Trump as they were from the Obama administration, according to a report from Kaiser Health News.
Medicare will decrease payments to 2,573 hospitals beginning in October, forecasting $564 million in savings with some hospitals facing cuts of up to 3% per year. Even with all the bluster over the Affordable Care Act and the new administration, the number of hospitals penalized this year is just shy of last year’s under Obama. The projected savings are roughly the same as well.
These penalties originally took effect six years ago to curb the amount of patients re-hospitalized within 30 days of initial discharge. In 2011 alone, 3.3 million adults were readmitted to hospitals generating $41 billion in largely preventable medical costs. Penalties encourage hospitals to go the extra mile in ensuring that their patients are not brought back into the ED or readmitted which, while heightening costs, can bring unintended profits to providers:
Medicare pays hospitals a lump sum for a patient’s stay based on the nature of the admission and other factors. Since hospitals generally are not paid extra if patients remain longer, they seek to discharge patients as soon as is medically feasible. If the patient ends up back in the hospital, it becomes a financial benefit as the hospital is paid for that second stay …
That’s not to accuse hospitals of encouraging readmission but it does beg the question of whether patient-centered care is as central to health care as it should be in theory. Medicare plans to release new incentives for hospitals to focus on quality care later this year that provide bonuses or, yet again, penalties based on quality metrics.