Hospitals that serve poorer populations have higher readmission rates. It is unknown whether these hospitals effectively lowered readmission rates in response to the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP).
To compare pre-post differences in readmission rates among hospitals with different proportion of dual-eligible patients both generally and among the most highly penalized (ie, low performing) hospitals.
Retrospective cohort study using piecewise linear model with estimated hospital-level risk-standardized readmission rates (RSRRs) as the dependent variable and a change point at HRRP passage (2010). Economic burden was assessed by proportion of dual-eligibles served.
Acute care hospitals within the United States.
Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 65 years or older discharged alive from January 1, 2003 to November 30, 2014 with a principal discharge diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI), congestive heart failure (CHF), and pneumonia.
Main Outcome and Measure:
Decrease in hospital-level RSRRs in the post-law period, after controlling for the pre-law trend.
For AMI, the pre-post difference between hospitals that service high and low proportion of dual-eligibles was not significant (−65 vs. −64 risk-standardized readmissions per 10000 discharges per year, P
=0.0678). For CHF, RSRRs declined more at high than low dual-eligible hospitals (−79 vs. −75 risk-standardized readmissions per 10000 discharges per year, P
=0.0006). For pneumonia, RSRRs declined less at high than low dual-eligible hospitals (−44 vs. −47 risk-standardized readmissions per 10000 discharges per year, P
=0.0003). Among the 742 highest penalized hospitals and all conditions, the pre-post decline in rate of change of RSRRs was less for high dual-eligible hospitals than low dual-eligible hospitals (−68 vs. −74 risk-standardized readmissions per 10000 discharges per year for AMI, −88 vs. −97 for CHF, and −47 vs. −56 for pneumonia, P
<0.0001 for all).
Conclusions and Relevance:
For all hospitals, differences in pre-post trends in RSRRs varied with disease conditions. However, for the highest-penalized hospitals, the pre-post decline in RSRRs was greater for low than high dual-eligible hospitals for all penalized conditions. These results suggest that high penalty, high dual-eligible hospitals may be less able to improve performance on readmission metrics.