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Unnecessary Hospital Admissions Targeted by New Payment Plan

One of six patients hospitalized in Maryland in the past year ended up back in the same facility within a month, a risky situation for them and a costly one for bill payers.

To keep that from happening so often, more than a dozen hospitals may join an experiment: Upend the traditional way they are paid and set in motion changes that could both boost patient care and reduce preventable admissions.

"We think we can turn that trend a bit," said Stuart Erdman, finance director for the Johns Hopkins Health System.

The voluntary effort, which includes hospitals such as Suburban, Howard County General and the University of Maryland Medical Center, would essentially cap payments for in-patient care at about this year's levels for three years. During that time, hospitals could reap substantial savings if they reduce re-admissions -- and lose money if they go up. Smaller hospitals in more rural areas are being offered a slightly different program with a broader goal...

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