Many post-acute care organizations are asking CMS to account for differences in patient populations. CMS is shaping a framework intended to allow better comparisons of post-acute care provided in four different settings. A roughly $60 billion annual expense for Medicare, the field involves the work of home health agencies, long-term care hospitals, skilled nursing centers and specialty inpatient rehabilitation facilities.

CMS said in the draft home health rule that Medicare officials understand the role that “sociodemographic status, beyond age, plays in the care of patients,” but said they have concerns about creating different standards for the outcomes due to patients’ socioeconomic status.

We “do not want to mask potential disparities or minimize incentives to improve the outcomes of disadvantaged populations,” CMS officials wrote, echoing a phrase repeated in other rules regarding requests for factoring patients’ incomes into quality measures.”

Without an adjustment for socioeconomic status, the data collected from the new measures will not offer a valid comparison of the results provided by different organizations.

With support from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health, the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, in partnership with NORC at the University of Chicago, has created a Guide to Preventing Readmissions Among Racially and Ethnically Diverse Medicare Beneficiaries as part of CMS Equity Plan For Improving Quality In Medicare.

The goals of this guide are to provide:

  • An overview of key issues related to readmissions for racially and ethnically diverse Medicare beneficiaries
  • A set of activities that can help hospital leaders take action to address readmissions in this population
  • Concrete case examples of strategies and initiatives aimed at reducing readmissions in diverse populations

The guide It’s designed to help hospitals identify the reasons why readmissions occur among this group of patients and to find solutions to help prevent them.

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