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Obamacare Now Fining Hospitals for Readmitted Medicare Patients
Tuesday, 02 October 2012 08:16
Written by Cliff Levine
One of the biggest issues with Obamacare, outside of the obvious issue that the government is taking over the health care industry and fining individuals that don't have coverage, is how the law gets implemented and funded. The law is so massive that the government has missed most of their own deadlines for implementing massive portions of the law - it's in absolute chaos. What started yesterday is another provision of the law that fines hospitals for Medicare patients that get readmitted. And it only goes downhill.
From the AP:
If you or an elderly relative have been hospitalized recently and noticed extra attention when the time came to be discharged, there's more to it than good customer service.
Starting Monday, Medicare will fine hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge due to complications. The penalties are part of a broader push under President Barack Obama's health care law to improve quality while also trying to cut costs.
About two-thirds of the hospitals serving Medicare patients, or some 2,200 facilities, will be hit with penalties averaging around $125,000 per facility this coming year, according to government estimates.
Data to assess the penalties have been collected and crunched, and Medicare has shared the results with individual hospitals. Medicare plans to post details online later and people can look up how their community hospitals performed.
It adds up to a new way of doing business for hospitals, and they have scrambled to prepare for well over a year. They are working on ways to improve communication with rehabilitation centers and doctors who follow patients after they're released, as well as connecting individually with patients.
"There is a lot of activity at the hospital level to straighten out our internal processes," said Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and safety at the American Hospital Association. "We are also spreading our wings a little and reaching outside the hospital, to the extent that we can, to make sure patients are getting the ongoing treatment they need."
Still, industry officials say they have misgivings about being held liable for circumstances beyond their control. They also complain that facilities serving low-income people, including many major teaching hospitals, are much more likely to be fined, raising questions of fairness.
Hospitals now face fines for Medicare patients that get readmitted after being released. The claim is that this should reduce the amount of Medicare patients that get readmitted - and the government fining hospitals is supposed to solve this problem. With Medicare already being an issue for hospitals and how they're repaid - or lack thereof - Obamacare adds yet another barrier to the equation that will only add complexities and costs to the already unaffordable care act.
There is no silver lining in Obamacare. It's bad for every American.
Cliff Levine is a contributing editor for Habledash.