In an interesting article this morning in the Omaha World Herald, it reports that nine Omaha and Lincoln area hospitals had approximately $1 million in Medicare payments withheld due to the number of patients returning to the hospitals within a month of being released.
Medicare has recently targeted these types of readmissions, which cost roughly $17 billion dollars a year. The government is penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates within three groups of patients:
– heart failure;
– heart attacks; and
Locally, as the World Herald reported, some hospitals are paying nurses to make follow-up home visits and set up doctor’s appointments for patients — tasks that used to be left to patients’ relatives or the patients themselves. This should help to reduce the number of readmissions and prevent Medicare from withholding funds. As this chart indicates, these amounts quickly add up.