Slight dip in hospital readmission rates, MedPAC study finds

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Hospital readmissions for Medicare beneficiaries dipped slightly between 2009 and 2011, which is good news for hospitals facing readmission penalties starting Oct. 1.

An analysis of Medicare data by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission found that hospital readmissions within a month of discharge dropped 0.7% between 2009 and 2011, from 13% of Medicare patients to 12.3%.

MedPAC, an independent committee that advises Congress, analyzed readmissions in which the beneficiary was admitted for reasons clinically related to their previous admission, Kaiser Health News reported.

Starting Oct. 1, Medicare will slash reimbursement rates at hospitals that fail to reduce hospital readmissions related to pneumonia, heart failure and heart attack. The government's goal is to reduce readmissions by 20%, saving the federal government more than $2.5 billion in a year, Kaiser reported.

Hospitals are expected to increasingly partner with quality long-term care facilities to prevent readmissions.