Has Program To Improve Readmission Rates For Medicare Beneficiaries Backfired?
Two new studies stoke skepticism over a program that penalizes hospitals when readmissions within 30 days exceeded national averages. While some worry the program hurts the very people it's meant to protect, other experts defend the measures.
The New York Times:
Hospitals Stopped Readmitting So Many Medicare Patients. Did That Cost Lives?
It was a well-intended policy. Almost all parties agree on that much. A decade ago, when Medicare beneficiaries were discharged from hospitals, one in five returned within a month. Older people faced the risks of hospitalization all over again: infections, deconditioning, delirium, subsequent nursing home stays. And preventable readmissions were costing Medicare a bundle. (Span, 1/18)
CMS, Yale New Haven Health On Hot Seat Over Design Of Quality Measures
The CMS' long-standing hospital readmissions penalty program has taken quite a beating recently from members of the research community over problems with its underlying measures. But while criticism of the program has escalated, not everyone has joined the bandwagon. Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a well-known researcher at Yale New Haven Health, passionately defends the measures, and with good reason: He led the group that helped the CMS develop the readmission measures as part of a multimillion-dollar contract the agency gave to the academic healthcare institution. (Castellucci, 1/19)
In other news —
The Washington Post:
JAMA Opinion Piece Slams Our Addiction To ‘Unnecessary’ MRIs, CT Scans
When the Food and Drug Administration approved magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners in 1984, the machines seemed incredible. They offered an inside view of the human body, making it easier to diagnose disease, injuries and physical abnormalities. Today, they’re part of a multibillion-dollar industry: In 2016, 118 out of every 1,000 Americans got an MRI. The use of CT scans was even higher: 245 per 1,000 people in 2016. But was all of that testing actually necessary? (Blakemore, 1/20)