JOURNAL ARTICLE

Higher readmissions at safety-net hospitals and potential policy solutions

Julia Berenson, Anthony Shih
Issue Brief of the Commonwealth Fund 2012, 34: 1-16
23289161
The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), established by the Affordable Care Act, ties a hospital's payments to its readmission rates--with penalties for hospitals that exceed a national benchmark--to encourage hospitals to reduce avoidable readmissions. This new Commonwealth Fund analysis uses publicly reported 30-day hos­pital readmission rate data to examine whether safety-net hospitals are more likely to have higher readmission rates, compared with other hospitals. Results of this analysis find that safety-net hospitals are 30 percent more likely to have 30-day hospital readmission rates above the national average, compared with non-safety-net hospitals, and will therefore be disproportionately impacted by the HRRP. Policy solutions to help safety-net hospi­tals reduce their readmission rates include targeting quality improvement initiatives for safety-net hospitals; ensuring that broader delivery system improvements include safety-net hospitals and care delivery systems; and enhancing bundled payment rates to account for socioeconomic risk factors.

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