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Medicare to penalize 2,211 hospitals for excess readmissions

Kaiser Health News, August 14, 2012

More than 2,000 hospitals—including some nationally recognized ones —will be penalized by the government starting in October because many of their patients are readmitted soon after discharge, new records show. Together, these hospitals will forfeit about $280 million in Medicare funds over the next year as the government begins a wide-ranging push to start paying healthcare providers based on the quality of care they provide. With nearly one in five Medicare patients returning to the hospital within a month of discharge, the government considers readmissions a prime symptom of an overly expensive and uncoordinated health system. Hospitals have had little financial incentive to ensure patients get the care they need once they leave, and in fact they benefit financially when patients don't recover and return for more treatment.