Starting today, Medicare is fining hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30 days of being discharged.
The penalties are relatively small, with the Associated Press reporting the average amounts to about $125,000 per facility. But the broader implication is part of a national push to reduce hospital spending and improve the quality of health care by eliminating what have been labeled as unnecessary hospital readmissions.
The penalties are part of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
This year, the penalty is capped at 1 percent of a hospital’s Medicare reimbursements. Most hospitals will pay less. In coming years, the maximum penalties will increase to 2 percent and then 3 percent.
“The smallest penalties are one hundredth of a percent, which 50 hospitals will receive,” reported Kaiser Health News, an arm of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
In Southwest Virginia, the penalties range from hospitals that are being not penalized to LewisGale Hospital Pulaski, which received the maximum 1 percent penalty, according to the data collected by Kaiser.
According to Kaiser, the Carilion Clinic and LewisGale Regional Health System hospitals being penalized are:
- Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, 0.7 percent
- Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, 0.06 percent
- Carilion Tazewell Community Hospital, 0.49 percent
- LewisGale Hospital Alleghany, 0.25 percent
- LewisGale Hospital Montgomery, 0.34 percent
- LewisGale Hospital Pulaski, 1 percent
- LewisGale Medical Center, 0.61 percent