Hospitals that serve large numbers of minority patients are reducing their Medicare readmissions rates more than other hospitals but are still more likely to be penalized under Medicare readmissions reduction program.

This is one of the findings in a new study published in the journal Health Affairs.

According to the study, hospitals that serve larger numbers of minority patients – typically, safety-net hospitals – are more likely to be penalized for readmissions than other hospitals because even though they are reducing their readmissions rates faster than other hospitals, their performance is compared, unfavorably, to hospitals that had fewer Medicare readmissions prior to the launch of the readmissions reduction program.

This situation may change beginning in FY 2019 when a new system of evaluating hospital performance will be introduced.  Under this new system, hospitals will be compared only to hospitals that are similar in patient composition and not to all other hospitals.  NAUH was one of the most forceful and persistent advocates of this change in the program.

But until then, private safety-net hospitals remain more likely to be penalized by the readmissions reduction program than other others.

Learn more about how the composition of hospitals’ patients affects their likelihood of facing penalties under the readmissions reduction program by reading the report “Medicare Program Associated With Narrowing Hospital Readmissions Disparities Between Black and White Patients,” which can be found here, on the Health Affairs web site.