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February 26, 2009 - 8:22 am

In reading about Obama’s new em$634 billion /em health fund, a href=”http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/25/AR2009022502587_pf.html”I came across this:/abr /br /blockquoteThe budget figures also represent significant shifts in how the United States will pay for medical care.br /br /For example, experts have identified hospital readmissions — especially for elderly patients — as a sign of poor care and unnecessary expense. About 18 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of an original visit. The new approach would establish flat fees for the first hospitalization and 30 days of follow-up, sometimes done by separate facilities. Hospitals or clinics with high readmission rates could be paid less./blockquotebr /br /I am not sure what the details are but just from reading the above, how is punishing hospitals or clinics who re-admit sick patients by paying them less going to provide good care? It’s like the insurance programs that dock doctor’s pay the more patients they see–and reward them for seeing fewer. Many just see fewer, regardless of whether the patient is better or not. But maybe I am naive and good care isn’t the point. Maybe the point is to make a certain portion of the American population including the president feel good that all Americans have insurance, even if patients are left sitting outside the hospital door. br /br /Perhaps I have this wrong, maybe there is more to this “new approach” than I have heard about. Maybe….

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