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Medical News & Perspectives
November 13, 2013

Greater Nurse Staffing May Lower Hospital Readmissions

JAMA. 2013;310(18):1911. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.282373

Having higher nurse staffing levels is associated with a better chance of avoiding federal monetary penalties for excessive readmission rates, say researchers whose study appeared in the October issue of Health Affairs.

In October 2012, under provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began implementing the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. Under this plan, the CMS lowers base diagnosis-related group payments by up to 1% for hospitals with excess 30-day readmissions for Medicare patients who initially presented with acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, or pneumonia. The program hopes to use these financial penalties to ultimately reduce the estimated $15 billion Medicare spends each year on preventable readmissions. For fiscal year 2013, penalties were estimated to have reduced CMS payments to hospitals by 0.3%, saving about $280 million.