The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 19, 2011

Hospitals across Georgia and the nation are increasingly working with home healthcare providers, nursing homes and family doctors to better coordinate care beyond their walls to ensure discharged patients don't end up back through their doors just days or weeks later. While key to improving the quality of care, failing to reduce readmissions could soon put hospitals at risk of losing millions of federal dollars. Avoidable readmissions of patients within 30 days cost Medicare more than $17 billion each year -- burdening an already taxed healthcare system. Many readmissions -- which can cost between $6,000 and $10,000 each -- reflect inadequate discharge planning and poor follow-up care, industry observers say. Starting next year, Medicare -- the federal health program for people 65 and older -- plans to stem costs by cutting payments to hospitals with excessively high readmission rates.

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