According to a piece published earlier this month by the Orange County Register, seniors are paying a heavy price due to new regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. The new rule reduces reimbursement for the care hospitals have already provided if patients return for subsequent care within 30 days of being discharged. Unable to absorb the loss, hospitals are evading the penalty by classifying the repeat visits as outpatient care, even if the patient is hospitalized for several days. And because outpatient care is not covered by Medicare, seniors are now facing astronomical hospital bills. Moreover, if the patient requires care in a skilled nursing facility prior to their return home, they must pay for that out-of-pocket, as well.
The federal government is actually touting this as a success, citing the lower rate of readmission as a cost savings and an improvement in the quality of care for seniors. In reality, the only thing that has changed is that some of the most vulnerable Americans are shouldering the cost of yet another pipe dream from a cubicle in Washington.
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