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BUSM study finds increasing health coverage does not improve readmission rates
Date:3/31/2014

BostonIn a first of its kind retrospective study, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers have found that providing health insurance coverage to previously uninsured people does not result in reducing 30-day readmission rates. The study, which appears in the British Medical Journal, used data on actual (versus self-reported) use of care and also found no change in racial/ethnic disparities in this outcome, despite a markedly higher baseline of uninsurance among African-American and Hispanics in Massachusetts.

Readmissions have been the focus of health policy interventions to reduce costs with particular focus given to uninsured and minority populations who are at increased risk for frequent readmissions. In March 2010, President Obama signed comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, into law. The law established a Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which requires the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reduce payments to hospitals with excess readmissions, effective for discharges beginning on October 1, 2012.

Prior studies suggest that when individuals have insurance, they are more likely to have a usual source of care and to utilize medical care, which can prevent unnecessary and costly hospitalizations. However, it is unknown whether expanding health insurance coverage can reduce the risk of readmissions in the overall population, specifically among minority populations.

In order to determine whether readmission rates changed in Massachusetts (which implemented health care reform in 2006) relative to two control states, (New York and New Jersey), which did not enact coverage expansions during the study period, the researchers compared all-payer inpatient discharge databases. Following health reform implementation, Massachusetts individuals experienced a very slight increased risk of 30-day readmissions, relative to similar age individuals in
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Contact: Gina DiGravio
gina.digravio@bmc.org
617-638-8480
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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