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Trends in readmission rates for safety net hospitals and non-safety net hospitals in the era of the US Hospital Readmission Reduction Program: a retrospective time series analysis using Medicare administrative claims data from 2008 to 2015



Trends in readmission rates for safety net hospitals and non-safety net hospitals in the era of the US Hospital Readmission Reduction Program: a retrospective time series analysis using Medicare administrative claims data from 2008 to 2015



BMJ Open 7(7): E016149



To compare trends in readmission rates among safety net and non-safety net hospitals under the US Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP). A retrospective time series analysis using Medicare administrative claims data from January 2008 to June 2015. We examined 3254 US hospitals eligible for penalties under the HRRP, categorised as safety net or non-safety net hospitals based on the hospital's proportion of patients with low socioeconomic status. Admissions for Medicare fee-for-service patients, age ≥65 years, discharged alive, who had a valid five-digit zip code and did not have a principal discharge diagnosis of cancer or psychiatric illness were included, for a total of 52 516 213 index admissions. Mean hospital-level, all-condition, 30-day risk-adjusted standardised unplanned readmission rate, measured quarterly, along with quarterly rate of change, and an interrupted time series examining: April-June 2010, after HRRP was passed, and October-December 2012, after HRRP penalties were implemented. 58.0% (SD 15.3) of safety net hospitals and 17.1% (SD 10.4) of non-safety net hospitals' patients were in the lowest quartile of socioeconomic status. The mean safety net hospital standardised readmission rate declined from 17.0% (SD 3.7) to 13.6% (SD 3.6), whereas the mean non-safety net hospital declined from 15.4% (SD 3.0) to 12.7% (SD 2.5). The absolute difference in rates between safety net and non-safety net hospitals declined from 1.6% (95% CI 1.3 to 1.9) to 0.9% (0.7 to 1.2). The quarterly decline in standardised readmission rates was 0.03 percentage points (95% CI 0.03 to 0.02, p<0.001) greater among safety net hospitals over the entire study period, and no differential change among safety net and non-safety net hospitals was found after either HRRP was passed or penalties enacted. Since HRRP was passed and penalties implemented, readmission rates for safety net hospitals have decreased more rapidly than those for non-safety net hospitals.

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Accession: 060425827

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PMID: 28710221

DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016149


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