O-Care rule docks poorly performing hospitals

Regulations issued Monday under the Affordable Care Act aim to crack down on hospitals with high readmission rates and records of patients acquiring new conditions after they’ve been admitted for something else. 

Implementation of ObamaCare’s Hospital Acquired Condition Reduction Program is among several provisions of a final rule updating the Medicare payment schedule for general acute care and long-term care hospitals in fiscal 2015. 

Under the rule, hospitals with the highest rates of hospital-acquired conditions would see their Medicare inpatient payments cut by 1 percent. 

The regulations also increase the maximum payment reduction from 2 percent to 3 percent for hospitals with the highest readmission rates, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

“Today’s policies further support our efforts to continue improving the care our Medicare beneficiaries receive while also cutting the growth of Medicare costs,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. 

Generally, the rule provides for a 1.4 percent payment rate update to general acute care hospitals. The rate update for long-term care hospitals will be 0.9 percent, the agency said. 

The rule also pushes hospitals to make patients aware of the charges related to their care, another requirement of the president’s signature healthcare law.

The regulations cover roughly 3,400 acute care hospitals and 435 long-term-care hospitals, according to the agency.