I am a registered nurse and graduate student, writing with concern and curiosity about the Affordable Care Act's hospital readmissions reduction program. Under this program, the penalty charges that hospitals face for repetitive admissions of Medicare patients within 30 days of their last admission are to increase from the current cap of 1 percent of a hospital's Medicare payments to 3 percent in 2015. This regulation is worrisome to me as a health care provider; what about the noncompliant patients who refuse to follow their recommended medical regimen, and essentially are re-admits over and over?
The Affordable Care Act certainly does address many holes in health care and insurance, and the uninsured are fortunate to have the opportunity to get health coverage, but will compliance change? Instead of always punishing the hospitals, should these patients face the risk of no longer having health insurance provided after so many penalties?
The Readmissions Reduction Program gives hospitals an incentive to reduce rehospitalizations, which can lower Medicare costs, but it takes two to tango. Therefore, patients have an equal responsibility to make an effort to comply and avoid re-admittance.
KATRINA L. WALTERS