Here Comes the Patient Protections and Affordable Care Act: What Does It Mean for Hospitals?

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President Obama’s signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (the Act) into law this past month was welcomed as a historic change to our nation’s health care system. The 2,400-page reform bill (H.R. 3590) cleared Congress on March 21, 2010, after a heated and mostly partisan vote. Naturally, hospitals and other health care providers benefit (financially) from the Act’s insurance market and coverage reform to the extent these measures increase the number of patients with insurance coverage (an estimated 32 million newly insured individuals) and reduce self-pay and charity care cases. In the event that you haven’t had time to digest the voluminous text of the Act, we have identified 10 aspects of the new Act of likely interest to hospitals.

First, acute care hospitals will be able to participate in a program under Medicare to incentivize improved quality outcomes by tracking hospital readmission rates and offering financial incentives to reduce preventable readmissions. This program authorized by Section 3025 of the Act will track excess readmissions and provide public reports of hospital readmission rates. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will oversee this program, which is anticipated to be established in 2012.

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