The Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) applies a one-size-fits-all approach by using readmissions as a proxy for demonstrating quality of care. But these measures do not accurately reflect quality of care because they do not account for the complex circumstances of many patients’ lives and the causes of readmissions that are beyond a hospital’s control. Many readmissions result from patients simply not having the means—money or transportation—to fill prescriptions, make follow-up appointments, or buy nutritious food.
Because HRRP fails to adjust for sociodemographic factors that lead to readmissions, many essential hospitals will suffer penalties. America’s Essential Hospitals and our members support H.R. 5273, the Helping Hospitals Improve Patient Care Act. Section 102 of the bill would amend the HRRP to level the playing field for hospitals that are disproportionately penalized by the program, including those that care for large numbers of low-income and other disadvantaged patients.