Higher Readmissions at Safety-Net Hospitals and Potential Policy Solutions

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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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Publication Date:
December 10, 2012
Authors:
Julia Berenson, Anthony Shih

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