Cut readmissions, costs for Medicare patients with home care

Hospital readmissions increase Medicare payments by at least 100 percent for post-acute, pre-acute and non-post-acute care episodes, according to an analysis in the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation's Clinically Appropriate and Cost-Effective Placement research project.

The cost of care for Medicare patients more than doubles when post-acute care episodes contain at least one readmission--boosting payments from $15,000 to approximately $33,000.

The findings, which demonstrate the effect hospital readmissions have on Medicare spending, could advance the home healthcare model as the industry looks for ways to improve care coordination while keeping costs in check.

"The data suggest that better management of chronic disease across all three settings through home health intervention could enable more patients to remain out of the hospital following an initial admission," Teresa Lee, executive director for the Alliance, said yesterday in a statement. "With clinically appropriate and effective care, patients have the potential to avoid some unnecessary admissions altogether, ultimately saving Medicare and taxpayers a significant amount."

The researchers note that having home health providers treat patients longer and offer chronic disease management could prevent non-post-acute care patients from going to the hospital in the first place, according to the executive summary.

Further highlighting home health benefits, a group of hospitals in upstate New York cut inpatient readmissions by 25 percent, thanks to a home visit program. The program involved coordination among the hospitals, local home health agencies, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Monroe Plan for Medical Care, a Medicaid managed care program, FierceHealthFinance reported earlier this month.

For more:
- read the announcement (.pdf)
- here's the study highlights (.pdf) and summary (.pdf)