Data, AHCJ article lead reporter to story on possible cuts at local hospital

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Blythe Bernhard followed up on suggestions offered in Charles Ornstein’s recent AHCJ article about updated CMS data to produce an article about looming potential cuts in Medicare payments to St. Louis’ Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The hospital’s problem? As Bernhard writes, Barnes-Jewish “is one of just three hospitals in the country to perform significantly worse than the national average in readmissions within 30 days for three conditions — heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia — for each of the last three years.”

Medicare … plans to penalize hospitals with higher-than-expected readmission rates. Under health care reform, Barnes-Jewish and other hospitals could face up to a 3 percent reduction in Medicare payments, meaning millions of dollars, starting next year.

Reducing readmissions nationwide could save $26 billion over a decade, the government estimates.

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