Round two of Medicare’s penalty program to reduce readmissions goes into effect October 1, 2013. Two thirds of hospitals in the United States will be penalized with 18 receiving the maximum 2% penalty and 154 receiving a 1% penalty. In an attempt to improve quality of care Medicare evaluated 30 day readmission rates for patients with heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia and found that 12% of readmissions were potentially avoidable. Hospitals are criticizing this program as it does not offer rewards for improvements or reimbursements for aftercare such as at home nursing visits or free medications at discharge. The penalties have an uneven distribution with greater penalties going to large hospitals serving predominantly low income populations and academic institutions. Aftercare has typically been left to community providers such as primary care physicians and pharmacists. What can be done in the community pharmacy setting to reduce hospital readmission rates for patients?
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