Hospital readmission rates are falling across the country

Potentially avoidable hospital readmissions that occur within 30 days of a patient’s initial discharge are estimated to account for more than $17 billion in Medicare expenditures annually. Not only are readmissions costly, but they are often a sign of poor quality care.

To address the problem of avoidable readmissions, the Affordable Care Act created the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which adjusts payments for hospitals with higher than expected 30-day readmission rates for targeted clinical conditions such as heart attacks, heart failure, and pneumonia. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has also undertaken other major quality improvement initiatives, such as the Partnership for Patients, which aim to make hospital care safer and improve the quality of care for individuals as they move from one health care setting to another. 

The data show that these efforts are working. Between 2010 and 2015, readmission rates fell by 8 percent nationally. Today, CMS is releasing new data showing how these improvements are helping Medicare patients across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The data show that since 2010: 

·        All states but one have seen Medicare 30-day readmission rates fall. The rate in Vermont virtually remained unchanged. 

·        In 43 states, readmission rates fell by more than 5 percent.

·        In 11 states, readmission rates fell by more than 10 percent.