Barnes-Jewish Hospital could face Medicare payment cut

Friday, August 26, 2011 | 8:54 a.m. CDT; updated 10:13 a.m. CDT, Friday, August 26, 2011

ST. LOUIS — One of Missouri's largest hospitals could face a cut in Medicare payments because too many Medicare patients are being readmitted soon after discharge.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday that Barnes-Jewish is one of just three hospitals in the country to perform worse than the national average in readmissions within 30 days for heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia, for each of the last three years.

Medicare, the government plan for people older than 65, plans to penalize hospitals that have higher-than-average readmission rates starting next year. Barnes-Jewish could face up to a 3 percent reduction in Medicare payments — millions of dollars.

Barnes-Jewish Chief Medical Officer John Lynch said reducing readmissions is an important goal. But he said hospitals should not be punished for treating underserved populations.


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