emergency-sign-at-hospital-300x201-7290191New York’s hospitals are getting modestly improved grades for reducing avoidable readmissions, but the state’s performance on this key quality indicator remains among the worst in the country, new federal data show.

Since 2012, as part of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare has financially penalized hospitals which readmit too many patients within 30 days of discharge—which is seen as a sign of inadequate treatment or poorly planned release. The worst performers can lose up to 3 percent of their Medicare fees.

For 2019, 90 percent of New York hospitals covered by the rule face penalties, the 12th highest rate among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to summary data published by Kaiser Health News. That was down from 93 percent in 2018.

The average penalty for New York hospitals is 0.85 percent, the eighth highest rate. That was down from 0.92 percent the year before.

New York’s improved numbers may reflect a rule change that benefits hospitals treating larger numbers of low-income patients. Hospitals are now grouped into five categories based on their share of patients enrolled in Medicaid, then rated against other institutions in the same category.

This would tend to favor New York hospitals because the state has unusually expansive Medicaid program that covers roughly a third of the population. Out of 145 New York hospitals graded by the program, 53 were in peer group five, the highest-Medicaid group.

In terms of raw numbers, New York’s hospitals had an overall 30-day readmission rate of just over 16 percent, the highest among the 50 states and D.C., for the 12 months ending in June 2017, according to an analysis of federal data.

Two hospitals received the highest possible Medicare penalty of 3 percent: Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville and Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira.

At the other end of the spectrum, 14 hospitals received no penalty: Albany Memorial Hospital, Alice Hyde Medical Center, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Cobleskill Regional Hospital, HealthAlliance Hospital Mary’s Avenue Campus, Hospital for Special Surgery, Jacobi Medical Center, Jones Memorial Hospital, Monroe Community Hospital, St. Barnabas Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital of Elmira, St. Mary’s Hospital of Troy, TLC Health Network and Westfield Memorial Hospital.

Receiving the biggest decreases in penalties compared to 2018 are TLC, St. Joseph’s of Elmira, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital at South Shore, St. Anthony Community Hospital and St. Catherine of Siena Hospital.

Facing the biggest increases in penalties are Putnam Hospital Center, Massena Memorial Hospital, Coney Island Hospital, Peconic Bay Medical Center and Northern Westchester Hospital.

Data on covered New York hospitals are available here.

About the Author

Bill Hammond

As the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, Bill Hammond tracks fast-moving developments in New York’s massive health care industry, with a focus on how decisions made in Albany and Washington affect the well-being of patients, providers, taxpayers and the state’s economy.

Read more by Bill Hammond

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