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Editorial |

A Requirement to Reduce Readmissions:  Take Care of the Patient, Not Just the Disease

Mark V. Williams, MD
JAMA. 2013;309(4):394-396. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.233964.
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program initiated a seismic shift in US hospitals' attitudes toward coordinating transitions of care.1 Effective October 2012, more than 2000 hospitals began losing money (national total of ~ $300 million the first year) to financial penalties for excess readmissions,2 and this penalty could triple for some hospitals by 2014 under provisions stipulated by §3025 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This program aims to slow growth in hospital inpatient costs (a quarter of the more than half trillion dollars in annual Medicare expenditures) and increase the value of medical care delivered to its beneficiaries. Despite representing less than 0.1% of the overall CMS budget, these penalties for excess readmissions of patients discharged after hospitalizations for heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, or pneumonia are driving change across the United States.

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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