A new bill in the Senate would require Medicare to add a risk-adjustment component to its controversial hospital readmissions reduction program.

The Hospital Readmission Program Accuracy and Accountability Act, a bipartisan bill, would compel Medicare to consider the socio-economic status of the patients a hospital serves when determining whether it should be penalized for “excessive” readmissions.

US Capitol DomeThe National Association of Urban Hospitals (NAUH) has long felt that the readmissions reduction program penalizes private safety-net hospitals for conditions beyond their control, and in recent years, a number of academic and government studies have confirmed this belief.  MedPAC, too, has advised Congress to urge Medicare to consider adding risk-adjustment to the program because it feared that the financial penalties it imposes could eventually discourage hospitals from serving higher-risk patients.

NAUH has endorsed this bill.

Learn more about the Hospital Readmission Program Accuracy and Accountability Act from this news release from one of the bill’s sponsors.