CMS Reform Efforts Put Focus on Curbing Hospital Readmissions


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has chosen 14 communities to participate in the agency's demonstration project aimed at reducing unnecessary hospital readmissions.

The CMS had already put hospitals on notice that it would find a way to curb readmissions, which have proved to be very costly to the Medicare program. In his fiscal 2011 budget blueprint, President Barack Obama said that readmissions would be targeted, largely through bundling of payments to hospitals and physicians. The budget document stated that 18% of Medicare hospitalizations result in readmissions. About $26 billion could be saved over 10 years by reducing those rehospitalizations, according to the budget document.

The CMS Care Transitions Project “is a new approach” for the agency, Dr. Barry M. Straube, the agency's chief medical officer, said in a statement. Participants “will look in their own backyards to learn why hospital readmissions occur locally and how patients transition between health care settings.” Care transitions teams will then design strategies to go after the “underlying local drivers of readmissions.”

The pilot sites will be Providence, R.I.; Upper Capital Region, N.Y.; Western Pennsylvania; Southwestern New Jersey; Metro Atlanta East; Miami; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Evansville, Ind.; Greater Lansing (Mich.) area; Omaha, Neb.; Baton Rouge, La.; Northwest Denver; Harlingen, Tex.; and Whatcom County, Wash.

The pilot will continue through summer 2011. The agency plans to make readmission rates at hospitals around the country available to the public later this year on the Hospital Compare Web site at

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