Elizabeth (Izzy) Montgomery, MPA
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will penalize 2,583 hospitals nationwide in fiscal year 2020 for having high 30-day readmission rates for their Medicare patients. CMS estimates that the penalties will cost hospitals $563 million in reduced Medicare payments.
Now in its eighth year, the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program seeks to improve health care by linking hospital payments to quality of care. The program uses patient data from July 2015 through June 2018 to determine readmission penalties for each hospital. Payment reductions are capped at 3% per patient. Some facilities are exempt, including veteran’s hospitals, children’s hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, critical access hospitals, and hospitals with too few cases to assess.
Forty-one hospitals in Arkansas will face readmission penalties in 2020. Two hospitals, NEA Baptist in Jonesboro and Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock, will be subject to the maximum penalty of 3%. Both facilities faced smaller penalties the previous year. Several hospitals face reduced penalties compared to the previous year (e.g., Chambers Memorial Hospital in Danville, St. Bernard’s Medical Center in Jonesboro, and Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton).
Kaiser Health News has created a tool for looking up the penalties faced by individual hospitals, including Arkansas hospitals.