Experts: Preventing re-hospitalizations key to Medicare solvency

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Medicare could save up to $12 billion per year if it would reduce the number of Medicare patients readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of a previous stay. Those savings, in turn, could help fund physician pay increases, a pair of experts write.

Long-term care providers regularly worry that funding to pay for physician pay increases will be taken from their payment streams.

Roughly 18% of Medicare patients wound up back in the hospital within a month of an earlier stay in 2005, according to Robert Pozen and Cathy Schoen, a trustee and senior vice president of The Commonwealth Fund, respectively. According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, up to 75% of those revisits are preventable.

Medicare needs to save $20 billion a year for the next 10 years to prevent future cuts to Medicare in the form of physician pay decreases, say Pozen and Schoen, writing in The Boston Globe late last week. They estimate that up to half of that goal can be met by reducing the number of re-hospitalizations among Medicare patients.