Obamacare to Penalize Hospitals for Readmitting Sick People

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 1st, 2012

Week in Review

Now that we passed Obamacare we’re starting to find out what was in that bill.  Which, according to Nancy Pelosi, was the only way for us to find out what was in it.  By voting blindly for it.  Then wait for them to implement it.  They’re doing that now.  And some of the things that we’re learning are in the bill are a little scary (see Hospitals Face Pressure From Medicare to Avert Readmissions (from the New York Times) by JORDAN RAU posted 11/26/2012 on The New York Times).

Medicare last month began levying financial penalties against 2,217 hospitals it says have had too many readmissions. Of those hospitals, 307 will receive the maximum punishment, a 1 percent reduction in Medicare’s regular payments for every patient over the next year, federal records show.

One of those is Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, which will lose $2 million this year. Dr. John Lynch, the chief medical officer, said Barnes-Jewish could absorb that loss this year, but “over time, if the penalties accumulate, it will probably take resources away from other key patient programs.”

The crackdown on readmissions is at the vanguard of the Affordable Care Act’s effort to eliminate unnecessary care and curb Medicare’s growing spending, which reached $556 billion this year. Hospital inpatient costs make up a quarter of that spending and are projected to grow by more than 4 percent annually in coming years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

There are two ways to look at this.  The government’s way.  Keeping those greedy hospitals from readmitting patients just to bill the government more.  Or the patients’ way.  Seeing Obamacare forcing hospitals not to readmit sick people.  Which would be basically the same as telling them to go and die.  It’s not called a death panel.  But someone in the hospital will have to decide whether to readmit the patient and suffer financial consequences.  Or please the government and not readmit these people.  Which, of course, would be a decision probably resulting in death for these patients.  Not the warm and cuddly Obamacare they told us about.  But it would be the only way the government could reduce health care costs.  Simply refusing to give people medical care.  For death is cheaper in the long run than hospitalization.  Something no doubt the government bureaucrats have factored in their Obamacare.

Medicare’s tough love is not going over well everywhere. Academic medical centers are complaining that the penalties do not take into account the extra challenges posed by extremely sick and low-income patients. For these people, getting medicine and follow-up care can be a struggle…

Various studies, including one commissioned by Medicare, have found that the hospitals with the most poor and African-American patients tended to have higher readmission rates than hospitals with more affluent and Caucasian patients…

Some researchers fear the Medicare penalties are so steep, they will distract hospitals from other pressing issues, like reducing infections and surgical mistakes and ensuring patients’ needs are met promptly. “It should not be our top priority,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health who has studied readmissions. “If you think of all the things in the Affordable Care Act, this is the one that has the biggest penalties, and that’s just crazy.”

Interesting.  Not only does Obamacare use death as a cost-cutting means it also will discriminate against the poor and minorities.  While at the same time making hospitals less safe as money will go to the government in fines instead of combating infections and preventing surgical mistakes.

Death panels and less safe hospitals.  Funny, I don’t recall them telling us this is what they were giving us Obamacare.  Then again, if they told the truth they probably wouldn’t have gotten the votes.  So health care will get incredibly worse.  These policies and our aging population will accelerate our once quality health care system to something akin to what we could find in a third world country.

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