SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – Each year, thousands of Medicare patients in California are getting released too soon, a practice that according to a new report, is costing the state millions of dollars.

They’re called avoidable readmissions and James Chionsini said he has witnessed them firsthand.

“When I was a social worker at a supervised nursing facility, I saw people being discharged too soon,” he said. “And in my estimation, inappropriately.”

KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

According to the California Discharge Planning Collaborative, there are more than 81,000 avoidable readmissions each year in the state and reducing such readmissions for just one day could save Medicare and Medi-Cal approximately $227 million a year.

Jodi Reid of the California Alliance for Retired Americans said hospitals don’t have the incentive to change this practice.

“Medicare and Medi-Cal do not reimburse for discharge planning services,” she said. “It often gets overlooked even though hospitals are required to offer those services.”

The report found that on the national level, the cost of avoidable readmissions is somewhere between $13 and 18 billion dollars a year.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  1. ShariR says:

    A big factor in hospitals’ decisions to discharge patients sooner than they should be released is the fact that with the current health care system, hospitals charge insurers–Medicare and Medicaid included–a flat rate per day per hospital bed, when in fact the need for overall nursing care and bed stay declines over the course of a patient’s hospital stay. Trying to avoid the flat-rate per bed per day costs is a big incentive for hospitals trying to save a little of their bottom line. Anyone who thinks there are hospitals and health care that are not-for-profit is stupid. They’re all out to get ahead of the next guy.

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