The Kaiser Health analysis indicates that 76% of the hospitals with a high percentage of low-income patients will lose Medicare funds starting in October, while just 55% of providers that treat a low percentage of poorer patients will be penalized. Readmissions penalties are not a certainty for this category of hospitals, though. For instance, University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and Denver Health Medical Center in Colorado, both safety-net hospitals, are not slated to be penalized this year.
Even for those hospitals that fared well during the first round of readmissions penalties, constant vigilance is needed to stay above the CMS bar, while for those that felt the sting of penalties this year there will likely be a renewed push to correct problems.
"We'll continue to focus on our patient-centered approached and the quality of the care we provide. But with mortality and morbidity, we'll look to be sure we are doing a better job coding the healthcare situation, so the mortality and morbidity index is better determined. Underquoting care can obviously cause the statistics to be distorted, and we don't want that to happen," notes Arndt.