H. L. Mencken’s observation that “there is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong”1 may well apply to health policy efforts to address the problem of unplanned hospital readmissions, which affect nearly one-fifth of Medicare beneficiaries admitted to hospitals and cost an estimated $17.4 billion in 2004.2 At face value, penalizing hospitals for readmissions as stipulated in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act makes sense; readmissions are associated with poor-quality care3 and can be reduced by enhanced hospital discharge programs.2
Urbach DR. The Medicare Readmission Measure for Surgical Hospitalizations: Awful or Just Not Very Good? JAMA Surg. 2014;149(8):765. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.50
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