Medicare Levies Higher Average Penalties on SoCal Hospitals for High Readmission Rates

The region’s average penalty was just over one-half of 1 percent of total Medicare reimbursements; last year it was one-third of 1 percent. Still, that’s lower than the national average, says Jordan Rau, a Kaiser Health News journalist who interpreted the annual Medicare data.

In Southern California, 109 hospitals – or nearly four out of five of those reviewed in Los Angeles Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties –  got fined after the annual federal review, he says.

The penalties, which take effect in October, are one of the ways the Affordable Care Act tries to get hospitals to improve patient care.

The average penalty may have increased this year because the federal government added a new measure for readmissions – heart bypass surgery.

That brings to six the number of situations Medicare uses to measure rehospitalizations. The others are heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, chronic lung disease and hip and knee replacements.

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