America’s Essential Hospitals today launched a campaign to raise awareness among policymakers about the need to account for poverty, food insecurity, and other socioeconomic barriers to good health in the federal Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP).

The campaign of online and print advertisements in high-profile, Washington, DC-based news outlets, including Vox and Roll Call, underscores the many socioeconomic challenges that stand between vulnerable patients and a successful recovery.

“We must help them overcome these challenges,” the association says on the campaign’s homepage, level-the-field.org. “But until they do, penalizing hospitals for readmitting these patients only drains resources needed to solve the problem.”

The site contains extensive resources on the need to risk adjust the HRRP for socioeconomic status (SES), including peer-reviewed literature, an association position paper, and a data brief on the disproportionate impact of HRRP penalties on essential hospitals. It highlights as a possible solution Section 102 of the Helping Hospitals Improve Patient Care Act (H.R. 5273), which the U.S. House of Representatives has passed with bipartisan support.

“Section 102, or legislation like it, would level the playing field for essential hospitals so that they can continue to accept the hardest cases and deliver better health outcomes for all people, including the most vulnerable,” the association says.