Hospitals Stopped Readmitting So Many Medicare Patients. Did That Cost Lives?

It was a well-intended policy. Almost all parties agree on that much.

A decade ago, when Medicare beneficiaries were discharged from hospitals, one in five returned within a month.

Older people faced the risks of hospitalization all over again: infections, deconditioning, delirium, subsequent nursing home stays. And preventable readmissions were costing Medicare a bundle.

So the Affordable Care Act incorporated something called the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which focused on three serious ailments with high readmission rates: heart failure, heart attacks and pneumonia.

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