AHA Urges CMS to Include Additional Patient Characteristics in its Hospital Readmissions Program

The American Hospital Association is urging CMS to include additional patient characteristics — including race and limited English proficiency — to the risk-adjustment methodology for its hospital readmission program, according to a letter written to the agency.

Under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule, hospitals that report excessive preventable readmissions 30 days after discharge will face reduced payments from CMS beginning in fiscal year 2013. A risk-adjustment methodology was built into the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program to account for the varying patient populations hospitals may care for. However, AHA expressed concerns the methodology does not account for minorities.

According to the letter, medical studies have already well-established the health disparities that exist among minorities. "[Research from both the government and private sector shows that African-American patients in general have a higher risk of readmission and that hospitals serving disproportionately large numbers of minorities have higher readmission rates across the board," the letter states.

In order to protect hospitals that may serve a larger minority community, the HRRP must account for other patient characteristics and be in better compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, AHA said.

Read AHA's letter to CMS about the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (pdf).

Related Articles on the Inpatient Prospective Payment System:
CMS Proposed 0.55% Pay Cut to Hospitals Includes Withholding Payments for Performance
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