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Readmission penalties cut deeper at urban hospitals

The Tennessean, November 14, 2011
Nashville-area hospitals stand to lose millions of dollars in the years to come because they have the highest readmission rates in the state. Beginning next October, Medicare will hold back 1% of their payments if their readmission rates are higher than expected. The penalty increases to 2% the following year and 3% the year after that. The Obama administration has targeted hospital readmissions as a means for improving care and saving money. Currently, one of every five Medicare patients discharged goes back into a hospital within 30 days. But readmissions are not always the result of inadequate care from a hospital. A recent study by Memphis-based Qsource showed that the patients with the most repeat readmissions live in the same ZIP codes. These are neighborhoods with high poverty rates where people need to catch a ride to see the doctor and often can't afford to buy medicine.