Ted Shaw Blog

Texas hospitals need your help

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It’s nearly August and that means our members of Congress will be coming home for the month-long Congressional work period. During this time, it is critical that they hear from you about your priorities and concerns.

I encourage you to speak with them about proposed legislation to modify the Medicare readmissions penalties program. There are bills in both the House and Senate that would amend the part of the Affordable Care Act that imposes financial penalties on hospitals deemed to have excessive readmissions. If the bills become law, readmissions penalties would be adjusted to account for the influence of patients’ socioeconomic status on outcomes.

This year, 169 Texas hospitals are being penalized for excessive readmissions. Their Medicare reimbursement rates are cut by up to two percent. Beginning October 1 of this year, the maximum penalty will be increased to three percent.

As currently structured, readmissions penalties ignore the effect of patient socioeconomic status on patient health and well-being, despite evidence that socioeconomic status is a major determinant of health outcomes. Indeed, both the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission that advises Congress on Medicare payment policies and the National Quality Forum have acknowledged that patients’ socioeconomic status is a significant factor in care outcomes and should be accounted for in performance measurement.

Both the House and Senate bills being considered have bipartisan support, and new cosponsors are signing on every day. Of the more than 90 cosponsors of H.R 4188, eight are from Texas. Neither Texas senator has yet signed on to S. 2501. You can read more details about the proposed legislation here.

If you can’t meet with your congressperson or senator next month, I encourage you to send a message urging their support for H.R. 4188 or S. 2501 through the Texas Hospital Association’s Voter Voice system. It’s quick, simple and effective.

Let’s make sure our elected representatives hear from Texas hospitals this August.

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