At an AHA-sponsored briefing today on Capitol Hill, hospital leaders called for changes in Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. Michael Langberg, M.D., senior vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, said hospitals shouldn’t be “penalized for resources and functions they cannot control,” including sociodemographic factors, such as poverty and lack of supportive services in the community. Leaders from Ochsner Health System in New Orleans and Presence Health in Chicago also participated in the briefing. The panelists also urged Congress to support the Establishing Beneficiary Equity in the Hospital Readmission Program Act, S. 688/H.R. 1343. The AHA-supported bill would require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to account for patient sociodemographic status when making risk adjustments to the readmissions penalties. At the briefing, the AHA also released a new TrendWatch report showing that the national readmission rate is declining, but 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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