Reducing hospital re-admissions is one of the chief cost-cutting tactics of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Hospitals that have excessive 30-day readmissions for Medicare patients admitted for heart-related illness or pneumonia will face reduced payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
A new study conducted by Matthew D. McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, FAAN at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, concludes that facilities with lower staffing ratios have lower odds of being penalized for excessive readmissions under the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), the group responsible under the ACA to reduce readmission rates. Hospitals with higher nurse staffing had 25% lower penalization rates than similar hospitals with less nurse staffing. They also have 41% lower odds of receiving the maximum penalty for readmissions.
Notably, the research also finds that each additional nurse hour per patient day is associated with 10% lower odds of HRRP penalties.