Could the Affordable Care Act make things worse for seniors?

By Paul Wilson

ProWEB Wire (Industry News)

Several initiatives in the Affordable Care Act aimed at improving outcomes for seniors could actually have the opposite effect, according to a new study.

Three programs included in the Act — the hospital readmission program; the national pilot program on payment bundling; and the community-based care transition programs — are not sufficient for certain seniors who are receiving long-term services and supports, researches said.

For example, penalizing hospitals for high rates of readmissions due to specific illnesses does not account for seniors who are hospitalized frequently for other co-existing conditions, the study found.

Instead, attempts to cut down on readmissions should focus on better coordination between acute and long-term care providers, according to the researchers.

The study also calls for an examination of the concept of bundling payments, where providers are paid a set amount for an entire cycle of care.

Finally, the study found that care transition programs pairing hospitals with high readmission rates to community-based organizations were ineffective for those living outside the geographic regions surrounding the hub hospitals.

When examining these initiatives, policyholders must “carefully monitor the law's implementation, advance payment policies that integrate care more fully and support providers in delivery system changes,” according to lead researcher Ellen Kurtzman, MPH, RN of George Washington University.