Comparison of the change in heart failure readmission and mortality rates between hospitals subject to hospital readmission reduction program penalties and critical access hospitals. American heart journal Sandhu, A. T., Heidenreich, P. A. 2018; 209: 63–67


BACKGROUND: The Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP), announced in 2010, penalizes hospitals with high readmissions for multiple conditions including heart failure.METHODS: We compared heart failure readmission and mortality rates in hospitals exposed to HRRP financial penalties with critical access hospitals (CAHs) not subject to the penalty between 2005 and 2016 using 3-year moving averages from Hospital Compare.RESULTS: After HRRP introduction, CAHs experienced a 0.60% annual decrease (95% CI: -0.61 to -0.59%) in heart failure readmissions. HRRP-exposed hospitals experienced an additional 0.13% annual decrease (95% CI: -0.14 to -0.12%) compared with CAHs. The association between HRRP penalties and mortality varied with model specifications.CONCLUSIONS: Using CAHs as a control group, we found the introduction of financial penalties was only associated with modest reductions in readmissions and an uncertain association with mortality. Cluster-randomized rollouts of health care policy interventions will allow us to better evaluate the impact of our interventions.

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