Rohit Bhalla, MD, MPH; Gary Kalkut, MD, MPH
Bhalla R, Kalkut G. Could Medicare Readmission Policy Exacerbate Health Care System Inequity?. Ann Intern Med. 2010;152:114-117. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-152-2-201001190-00185
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2010;152(2):114-117.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently started publicly reporting hospital readmission rates. Health care reform proposals include readmission provisions as vehicles to promote care coordination and achieve savings. Current approaches ascribe variability in hospital readmission primarily to differences in patient medical risk and hospital performance. These approaches do not adequately account for the effect of patient sociodemographic and community factors that influence health care utilization and outcomes. The evidence base on cost-effective and generalizable care management techniques to reduce readmission is still evolving. Although readmission-related policies may prove to be a transformational force in health care reform, their incorrect application in facilities serving vulnerable communities may increase health care system inequity. Policy options can mitigate this potential.
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