The Financial Impact of an Avoided Readmission for Teaching and Safety-Net Hospitals Under Medicare's Hospital Readmission Reduction Program

Med Care Res Rev. 2020 Aug;77(4):324-333. doi: 10.1177/1077558718795733. Epub 2018 Aug 24.


We examined the financial incentives to avoid readmissions under Medicare's Hospital Readmission Reduction Program for safety-net hospitals (SNHs) and teaching hospitals (THs) compared with other hospitals. Using Medicare's FY2016 Hospital Compare and readmissions data for 2,465 hospitals, we tested for differential revenue gains for SNHs (n = 658) relative to non-SNHs (n = 1,807), and for major (n = 231) and minor (n = 591) THs relative to non-THs (n = 1,643). We examined hospital-level factors predicting differences in revenue gains by hospital type. The revenue gains of an avoided readmission were 10% to 15% greater for major THs compared with non-THs ($18,047 vs. $15,478 for acute myocardial infarction) but no different for SNHs compared with non-SNHs. The greater revenue gains for THs were strongly positively predicted by hospitals' poor initial readmission performance. We found little evidence that the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program creates disincentives for SNHs and THs to invest in readmission reduction efforts, and THs have greater returns from readmissions avoidance than non-THs.

Keywords: Medicare; financial analysis; health economic; health policy/politics/law/regulation; hospitals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Hospitals, Teaching / economics*
  • Humans
  • Medicare* / economics
  • Medicare* / statistics & numerical data
  • Motivation*
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Safety-net Providers / economics*
  • United States