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CMS: Penalties are working to reduce hospital readmissions

March 1, 2013
by Pamela Tabar, Senior Editor
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For the first time in five years, the 30-day hospital readmission rate has dropped from an average of 19 percent to 17.8 percent, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The percentage reduction translates into 70,000 fewer all-cause readmissions for 2012.

CMS discussed the new figures Thursday at a Senate Finance Committee meeting, during which Jonathan Blum, acting prinicipal deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare, testified on healthcare delivery system reform.

Blum calls the new figures “significant progress,” crediting the Affordable Care Act’s initiatives for the improvement. The largest drop in readmissions occurred in the second half of 2012, attributable in part to the publicity surrounding the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program, which enacted penalties for excessive readmissions involving heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia starting Oct 1, 2012.

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