Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – Medicare is now fining hospitals as a way to improve care and reduce costs for taxpayers.
According to the new policy, hospitals will have to pay the fine if too many patients have to be readmitted.
Upstate University Hospital and others in the region have been aware of the change for some time and they say they are prepared.
They’re focusing on improving their coordination with post-hospital care facilities. They are also putting an emphasis on helping patients set up and follow up doctors’ appointments and rehab arrangements – which they hope will keep patients from needing to return.
According to the new guidelines, if too many Medicare patients are re-admitted within a 30-day period, the hospital could be fined.
Medicare is narrowing the fines to cover only three types of conditions: heart attacks, heart failure, and pneumonia.
Staff members at Upstate University Hospital say they understand the idea, but that hospitals aren’t always to blame for re-admittance.
“One has to wonder if simply penalizing the hospital for readmission makes sense and whether at the end of the day the cost to the hospital is both the penalty and the extra things we put in place to keep people out is really going to keep people out,” said Dr. John McCabe.
According to an Associated Press report, consumer advocates say Medicare's nudge to hospitals is long overdue and not nearly stiff enough.
Upstate University Hospital says its too early to see how the change will impact them, but they believe that – based on their lower re-admittance rates for such patients – they aren’t expecting to be impacted too greatly.
According to the Associated Press, the government estimates that some 2,200 facilities will be hit with penalties averaging around $125,000 per facility this coming year - about two thirds of the hospitals that service Medicare patients.
Right now, Medicare is also considering holding hospitals more accountable for other procedures such as joint replacements, stenting, heart bypasses, and strokes.