Published Date: June 17, 2020

Summary: Hospital readmission rates decreased for myocardial infarction (AMI), heart failure (CHF), and pneumonia with implementation of the first phase of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). It is not established whether readmissions fell for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an HRRP condition added in 2014.

Authors sought to determine whether HRRP penalties influenced COPD readmissions among Medicare, Medicaid, or privately insured patients. Authors analyzed a retrospective cohort, evaluating readmissions across implementation periods for HRRP penalties ("pre-HRRP" January 2010–April 2011, "implementation" May 2011–September 2012, "partial penalty" October 2012–September 2014, and "full penalty" October 2014–December 2016).

This study calculated differences-in-differences (DID) for 30-day COPD versus HRRP Phase 1 and non-HRRP readmissions.

Findings: COPD discharges for 1.2 million Medicare enrollees were compared with 22 million non-HRRP and 3.4 million HRRP Phase 1 discharges. COPD readmissions decreased from 19% to 17% over the study. This reduction was significantly greater than non-HRRP conditions, but not HRRP Phase 1. A parallel trend was observed in the privately insured, with significant reduction compared with non-HRRP, but not HRRP Phase 1 conditions. Non-significant reductions occurred in Medicaid.

In Medicare, HRRP implementation was associated with reductions in COPD readmissions compared with non-HRRP controls but not versus other HRRP conditions. Parallel findings were observed in commercial insurance, but not in Medicaid. Condition-specific penalties may not reduce readmissions further than existing HRRP trends.

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