Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Obamacare hospital requirements being questioned
NEW YORK TIMES
It is no longer enough for hospitals to make patients healthy enough to leave. Now, as part of the Obama administration's health care overhaul, they are spending millions of dollars to keep those patients from coming back, often acting like personal assistants to help them manage their post-hospital lives.
While federal statistics show the effort is beginning to reduce costly and unnecessary readmissions, a growing chorus of critics is asking whether the government policy, which penalizes hospitals that have high readmission rates, is unfair. They are also questioning whether hospitals should be responsible for managing the personal lives of released patients.
Under the new federal regulations, hospitals face hefty penalties for readmitting patients they have treated, on the theory that many readmissions result from poor follow-up care.
So hospitals have also taken on responsibilities far outside the medical realm: They are helping patients arrange transportation for follow-up doctor visits, get safe housing or even find a hot meal, all in an effort to keep them healthy.