Missouri Hospitals Seek To Focus Readmission Penalties On Patient Poverty

(By Lisa Gillespie for Kaiser Health News)

Christian Hospital says its costly difference of opinion with Medicare hinges on how to count the large number of poor people that the St. Louis hospital treats.

Medicare penalizes hospitals that readmit too many patients within 30 days of discharge, and Christian expects to lose almost $600,000 in reimbursements this year, hospital officials said. Christian is one of 14 hospitals in the BJC HealthCare System.

Steven Lipstein, chief executive of BJC, which includes Barnes-Jewish hospital in St. Louis, said Medicare doesn’t play fair because its formula for setting penalties does not factor in patients with socioeconomic disadvantages — low-income, poor health habits and chronic illnesses for instance — that contribute to repeated hospitalizations. Read article here…..

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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