House bill would ease readmissions penalties for hospitals that treat many dual eligibles and low-income seniors

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Hospitals that treat a high percentage of patients eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid would get a break on readmissions penalties if a new bill in the House of Representatives were to become law.

Dual eligible beneficiaries have low incomes, are likely to have chronic or complex conditions, and often reside in long-term care facilities. They also are a high-risk group for being frequently readmitted to hospitals, noted Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH), who is a former owner and operator of nursing homes. He introduced the “Establishing Beneficiary Equity in the Hospital Readmission Program Act” Tuesday.

The bill would adjust readmissions penalties for hospitals that care for a high number of dual eligible patients. This would prevent these hospitals from being unfairly targeted under the Affordable Care Act, which implemented penalties for hospitals with readmissions rates above an acceptable threshold, Renacci stated.

The American Hospital Association supports the measure.

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living still is reviewing Renacci's bill, spokesman Greg Crist told McKnight's. The organization “applauds and appreciates” Renacci's commitment to seniors in the area of reducing hospital readmissions, Crist added.

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