TrendWatch: Rethinking the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program

Reducing readmissions is an important way to improve quality and lower health care spending. Hospitals are making significant progress; as reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the national readmission rate fell to 17.5 percent in 2013, after holding steady at around 19 to 19.5 percent for many years.1 However, reducing readmissions is a complex undertaking because not all readmissions can or should be prevented; indeed, some are planned as part of sound clinical care.

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