Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rural hospitals face losing federal reimbursements for having high patient-readmission rates

The biggest reason rural areas are facing doctor shortages could be a lack of social services in rural areas, especially in states that chose not to expand Medicaid under federal health reform, Mark Guydish reports for The Times-Leader in northeastern Pennsylvania. (T-L photo by Fred Adams: Patients wait for medical care at a free clinic at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Mountain Top, Pa.)

"The lack of social services bodes ill for rural hospitals as the 'Hospital Re-admissions Reduction Rate' program created by the Affordable Care Act kicks in," Guydish writes. "The program punishes hospitals that have high readmission rates by reducing Medicare reimbursement."

Brock Slabach, senior vice president of the National Rural Health Association, said more than 2,000 hospitals are expected to be hurt by the re-admissions program in 2015, Guydish writes. Slabach told him, “When a patient is discharged in a rural setting there is not a network of services for post-acute care and often patients will come back to hospitals because there were no other services to go to.” Possible solutions include an increase of physician assistants and nurse practitioners. (Read more)

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