"There has been extensive research illustrating that readmission rates are statistically higher among dually eligible versus non-dually eligible and non-white versus white beneficiaries," Pollack's letter said. "These factors are beyond the control of a hospital and must be adjusted for when calculating a hospital's readmission rate."
The letter includes two charts showing large differences in readmission rates between hospitals that serve more dually-eligible patients compared with non-dually eligibles, and between hospitals stratified by white versus non-white beneficiaries for each of three disease categories covered under the readmission penalty: heart attack, pneumonia and heart failure.
For example, hospitals serving non-dually eligible beneficiaries have readmission rates at 18.7%, 17.3%, and 23.7%. But hospitals serving dually eligibles have readmission rates that are much higher, at 24.3%, 20.1% and 27.4% respectively.
By race, hospitals serving white beneficiaries have readmission rates at 19.3%, 17.7% and 24.1%, while hospitals serving non-white beneficiaries have readmission rates at 22.9%, 20.5% and 26.9% for those three disease categories.
Under the proposed rule, starting Oct. 1, payment adjustments to the hospital's base DRG take effect with the following breakdown:
- 481 hospitals would receive the maximum 1% penalty
- 76 hospitals will receive a .9% – .99% penalty
- 77 hospitals will receive a .8% – .89% penalty
- 110 hospitals will receive a .7% – .79% penalty
- 118 hospitals will receive a .6% – .69% penalty
- 129 hospitals will receive a .5% – .59% penalty
- 180 hospitals will receive a .4% – .49% penalty
- 196 hospitals will receive a .3% – .39 penalty
- 228 hospitals will receive a 2% – .29 penalty
- 280 hospitals will receive a .1% – .19% penalty
- 347 hospitals will receive up to a .09% penalty and
- 1,171 hospitals would receive no readmission penalty