Man in hospital bed Although Medicare began applying the penalties in 2012, disagreements continue about whether they have improved patient safety.

Medicare cut payments to 2,583 hospitals Tuesday, continuing the Affordable Care Act’s eight-year campaign to financially pressure hospitals into reducing the number of patients who return for a second stay within a month.

The severity and broad application of the penalties, which Medicare estimates will cost hospitals $563 million over a year, follows the trend of the past few years. Of the 3,129 general hospitals evaluated in the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program, 83 percent received a penalty, which will be deducted from each payment for a Medicare patient stay over the fiscal year that begins today.

 

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