Rationale: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fifth-leading cause of admissions and third-leading cause of readmissions among U.S. adults. Recent policies instituted financial penalties for excessive COPD readmissions. Objectives: To evaluate changes in the quality of care for patients hospitalized for COPD after implementation of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients older than 40 years of age hospitalized for COPD across 995 U.S. hospitals (Premier Healthcare Database). Measurements and Main Results: Quality of care before and after HRRP implementation was measured via adherence to recommended inpatient care treatments for acute exacerbations of COPD (recommended care, nonrecommended care, "ideal care" [all recommended and no nonrecommended care]). We included 662,842 pre-HRRP (January 2010-September 2014) and 285,508 post-HRRP (October 2014-December 2018) admissions. Recommended care increased at a rate of 0.16% per month pre-HRRP and 0.01% per month post-HRRP (P < 0.001). Nonrecommended care decreased at a rate of 0.15% per month pre-HRRP and 0.13% per month post-HRRP. Ideal care increased at a rate of 0.24% per month pre-HRRP and 0.11% per month post-HRRP (P < 0.001). Conclusions: The pre-HRRP trends toward improving care quality for inpatient COPD care slowed after HRRP implementation. This suggests that financial penalties for readmissions did not stimulate higher quality of care for patients hospitalized with COPD. It remains unclear what policies or approaches will be effective to ensure high care quality for patients hospitalized with COPD exacerbations.
Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; health policy; patient readmission; quality of health care.