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Some N.C. Hospitals Hit With Medicare Penalty

Two Ob/GYN doctors review test results.
Mercy Health

Medicare patients who are frequently admitted to hospitals are beginning to cause extra fees for those facilities. 

The federal Affordable Care Act lets Medicare reduce funds to hospitals if patients are re-admitted within a month of being sent home.  Last year, re-admission numbers went up in about a third of North Carolina's hospitals. 

Pamela Duncan is director of Innovations and Transitional Outcomes at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. She says her hospital commissioned research to learn the sources of return visits.

"And we found out where our most challenged nursing home are in terms of re-admissions," Duncan says. 

"We found out what our home health agencies are; hospice and end-of-life care.  We began to map where do our patients live that are most likely to bounce back?  They live in the most socio-economically challenged areas in our region."

Duncan says they're forging partnerships with care providers in many of those areas.  She says bringing re-admissions down is a slow process, but she expects numbers to come down by 2015 or 2016.

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