NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- Hospitals in Connecticut and across the county are expected to lost Medicare funds in the next year due to a new federal policy that's penalizing hospitals for high re-admittance rates.
High readmission rates at hospitals within 30 days of being discharged have driven Medicare reimbursement to more than $17 billion a year.
Based on numbers from July 2008 to June 2011, under a new federal policy, many hospitals, like Yale-New Haven, stand to lose those funds in the next year.
It comes down to Medicare looking into how hospitals are providing that transition of care. It's something that Yale-New Haven Hospital is also addressing.
"We found out there are these gaps. So our plans we had in the hospital weren't getting communicated effectively out into the skilled nursing facilities, to the home health agencies and patients at home were left with questions about what do I do about this medication? When do I see my doctor," explained Dr. Grace Jenq.
Dr. Jenq oversees the Greater New Haven Coalition for Safe Transitions and Readmission Reductions. CoSTARR is a community based program aimed at reducing the number of re-admissions.
"I think there is a subset of patients and families who are quite frustrated about coming back in, time and time again for re-admissions," Dr. Jenq said.
Social workers from the Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut monitor Medicare patients closely.
"They will make follow-up phone calls and they'll go over instructions with the patient, make sure they have transportation to make it to their doctor appointments, make sure patients understand and know what symptoms to look out for so we can potentially prevent readmission," Dr. Jenq explained.
The biggest benefits is overall lower health care costs and improved continuum care for patients.
The Hospital of St. Raphael is also involved in CoSTARR.
Dr. Jenq points out that there will still be patients who will need to be readmitted for acute care within a month of being sent home.
The program took effect in May and has since signed up 200 patients.
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