Medicare readmission rates for Lovelace Health System hospitals are far below the national rates that trigger Medicare officials to penalize hospitals for excessive readmissions, officials said this week. Lovelace is using medication management to help limit readmissions.
Dennis Domrzalski , Reporter- Albuquerque Business First
Medicare readmission rates for Lovelace Health System  hospitals are far below the national rates that trigger Medicare officials to penalize hospitals for excessive readmissions, officials said this week.
The acceptable national rates from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are 19.7 percent for heart attacks, 18.5 percent for pneumonia and 24.7 percent for congestive heart failure.
The readmission rates for Lovelace’s hospitals in the three categories are 8 percent, 6.6 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively, said Dr. John Iacuone , chief medical officer for Lovelace Health Plan/Lovelace  Hospitals.
Earlier this month, CMS announced it was penalizing 14 New Mexico hospitals  for excessive readmission rates in the three areas.
CMS said beginning Oct. 1, those hospitals will see reduced Medicare reimbursement rates for Medicare patients with those three conditions.
No Lovelace hospitals were penalized by CMS.
CMS is trying to link “value to the dollars they pay providers,” meaning it wants to see healthier patients for the money it pays for treatment, Iacuone said. He added that 55 percent of hospital readmissions are “related to medication misadventures, like taking too strong a dose or not enough.”
To combat those types of readmissions, Lovelace has instituted a medication therapy management program for Lovelace Health Plan Medicare members, Iacuone said.
At Lovelace Medical Center , for instance, staffers call every discharged patient within 24 hours to make sure they’ve gotten their medications and other supplies, Iacuone added.