Medicare Assesses More than $280 Million in Penalties to Hospitals with High Readmission Rates

Penalty program to reduce hospital inpatient readmissions could present an opportunity for pathologists and clinical laboratories

Remember the Medicare program that was designed to target hospital inpatient readmissions? The bill is coming due and Medicare penalties are soon to hit 2,211 of the nation’s hospitals. According to Kaiser Health News, as much as $280 million in penalties will be assessed against hospitals that did meet their goals.

The maximum penalty is 1% of a hospital’s base Medicare reimbursement. At least 278 hospitals will pay this maximum penalty, including some nationally-prominent institutions.

One consequence of these payment forfeitures is that hospital administration and physicians will be looking for ways to improve care and reduce the readmission rate for Medicare patients. In turn, it can be expected that clinicians will be motivated to pay closer attention to clinical laboratory test results in determining appropriate therapies and making discharge decisions. Utilization of medical laboratory tests may also improve as part of these overall efforts to improve patient outcomes and lower the rate of readmissions. (more…)