CMS: 2013 readmission rates fall below 18%

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Hospitals’ all-cause 30-day readmission rates dipped below 18 percent in a preliminary analysis of the first eight months of 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on its blog.

CMS views preventable readmissions as a quality measure. As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, CMS penalizes hospitals that show higher than expected readmission rates for heart failure, MI and pneumonia. For fiscal year 2014, the penalty is 2 percent, which will rise to 3 percent in the next year.

CMS cites the dropping readmission rates as a sign the program is working. It reported that all-cause readmissions fell to 18.5 percent in 2012 from 19 percent in the previous year and the decline has continued into 2013.  

“This translates into an estimated 130,000 fewer hospital readmissions between January 2012 and August 2013,” CMS wrote.

The declines appear to be spread across the nation, according to the analysis. Seventy-six percent of local markets recorded a drop in readmission rates while 10 percent posted higher rates. Every state except Utah, which started with one of the lowest rates in the U.S., achieved a reduction.