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Advocacy

Letter to Senators Asking for Support of Senate Readmission Bill

June 24, 2014

The Honorable [Robert P. Casey, Jr.] [Pat Toomey]
[393 Russell Senate Office Building] [248 Russell Senate Office Building]
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator [Casey] [Toomey],

On behalf of The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), which represents approximately 240 member institutions, including 125 stand-alone hospitals and another 120 hospitals that comprise 32 health systems across the state, I urge you to cosponsor S. 2501, the Hospital Readmission Program Accuracy and Accountability Act of 2014 in order to support hospitals serving vulnerable patients by accounting for socioeconomic factors in the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP).

The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) places a proper focus on addressing preventable hospital readmissions. Pennsylvania hospitals are fully committed to eliminating preventable hospital readmissions and in turn, improving quality of care and reducing health care costs.

Under the HRRP hospitals are penalized for readmissions that exceed the national average. Readmission performance is calculated through a risk-adjusted 30-day measure that adjusts for clinical factors. The current program does not sufficiently reflect the link between high readmission rates and socioeconomic factors that play a significant role in the health of a patient after discharge. This is leading to diminished resources for those serving the neediest communities and most vulnerable patients.

Importantly, S. 2501 would require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to adjust for socioeconomic factors when determining penalties under HRRP.

Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems have been recognized as national leaders in quality and safety. Hospitals participating in the Pennsylvania Hospital Engagement Network (PA-HEN) are demonstrating success with reducing readmission rates and improving care transitions. PA-HEN hospitals have achieved a collective 28 percent reduction in 30-day all-cause, all-payer readmissions from their 2011 baseline.

Pennsylvania hospitals will continue making strides in reducing readmission rates; however, adjustment of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program is important in helping to ensure hospitals serving vulnerable patients are not unfairly penalized for readmissions outside their control.   Thank you for your consideration of this important legislation.

Sincerely,

Andy Carter
President and Chief Executive Officer

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