I received a pardon from the cliché police to write this sentence:
What follows represents the columnist's dog days of August. Vacations, heat and drought, Supreme Court decision withdrawal, or election anticipation. Take your pick of excuses.
There wasn't much in the news this week to inspire my usual quality rant, although the New York Times story about federal inquiries into unnecessary cardiac procedures putting patients at risk at Florida HCA hospitals—a deja vu of St. Joseph's Hospital in Towson, MD and Tenet's Redding Medical Center in California—was tempting.
Times like these, the weary writer turns to "the list," in this case, my 10 favorite columns of 2012, so far. From our readership numbers, it looks like they were your favorites too:
1. 10 Things We Don't Know About Looming Readmissions Penalties
This March 29 piece captured the angst and uncertainty about how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would roll out the final rules for readmissions penalties, how hospitals' risk adjustments would be made, and of course, which hospitals would have to absorb negative payment adjustments of between one cent and $1 for every $100 in base DRG payments starting Oct. 1.
As of last week, the list of all hospitals eligible for readmission penalties is out and published here. Download "FY 2013 IPPS Final Rule: Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program Supplemental Data File."
Of the 3,393 hospitals eligible for the penalty, 2,215 hospitals will receive some payment reduction. But only 278 of those will receive the full 1% according to the final rule, fewer than the 481 slated to receive that penalty in the proposed rule. Of course, next year the price will be steeper, with penalties of up to 2% of a hospital's Medicare base DRG payment.