A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that a CMS pilot program established to improve care transitions for Medicare beneficiaries reduced readmission rates over a period of two years. Researchers examined the impact of quality improvement organizations (QIOs) across 14 intervention communities and compared the outcome to that of 50 communities without QIOs. Those Medicare patients who lived in a community with QIOs experienced fewer initial hospitalizations and readmissions. A separate study in Medical Care reported that increasing the nurse-to-patient staffing ratio and improving nurse job satisfaction were also tied to lower readmission rates for Medicare patients.
During his second inaugural address, President Obama took time to reinforce his commitment to maintaining Medicare and Medicaid while also reducing federal healthcare costs (Modern Healthcare). “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of healthcare and the size of our deficit,” the President said. “But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid are expected this spring.
Researchers from Penn State have released findings indicating that uninsured individuals who receive primary care from free clinics utilize emergency department (ED) services less than those who don’t (Science Daily 2013). By studying common diagnoses of patients visiting EDs and free clinics in Virginia, researchers found that those first treated in a free clinic were less likely to go to an ED for lower acuity illnesses and injuries.