Many State Medicare Beneficiaries Readmitted to Hospitals in 30 Days
In California, about 20% of Medicare beneficiaries -- or 81,000 individuals -- end up back in the hospital within 30 days of being discharged, usuallyÂ for reasons related to their initial admission, according to a new study, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The study by the California Discharge Planning Collaborative found that reducing hospital stays by a single day for Medicare and Medi-Cal beneficiaries could save $227 million annually. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Readmitting the Elderly
According to the report, elderly patients and those lacking social support often are readmitted because they:
- Do not understand their discharge instructions;
- Do not take their medications as directed; or
- Have complications they cannot handle.
The readmission report comes as Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is proposing cuts to state health programs such as In-Home Supportive Services. Other senior services like adult day health care could be eliminated altogether.
Under the federal health care reform law, CMS beginning in 2012 will penalize hospitals if they have readmission rates that are higher than expected.
Patient advocatesÂ have said there are other potential solutions to the hospital readmission issue, including allowing Medicare and Medi-Cal to cover the costs of discharge planning servicesÂ for families (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.