The Affordable Care Act appears to be having an impact on lowering the number of costly hospital readmissions, as reforms under the law have helped drive down the 30-day readmission rate by as much as 18% in 2013, according to data released this week by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
During the first eight months of 2013, the 30-day Medicare readmission rate for all causes and conditions averaged less than 18%, translating into an estimated 130,000 fewer hospital readmissions between January 2012 and August 2013, according to the CMS data.
Prior to the regulations taking effect, the 30-day hospital readmission rate for all conditions held steady at 19% from 2007 to 2011.
The declining trend is widespread across the country. Comparing readmission rates over the first eight months of 2013 to the average rates for 2007 to 2011 in local health care markets, CMS found that 2013’s readmission rates were at least a half of a percentage lower in 76% of local markets—or 232 of the 306 recorded by CMS.
Improvements in the Medicare readmission rate on a national scale were further emphasized as fewer than 10% of local markets had higher rates. Using the same comparison, readmission rates also dropped in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
The only state that did not see a decrease was Utah, which already had one of the lowest rates in the country, as noted by CMS.
“We can see that the decline in all-cause readmission rates that began in 2012 is continuing this year on a widespread basis,” wrote CMS in a statement. “While we continue to monitor and study these encouraging reductions, what is fleas is that intense focus on reducing hospital re-admissions through improved process of care and new tools in the Affordable Care Act are having a demonstrably positive impact.”
Written by Jason Oliva