the chart is almost too perfect. For four years the readmission rate is dead stable. Then, in a single month between December 2010 and January 2011 it suddenly drops by a full percentage point, and continues dropping for two years. This decline started about eight months after the passage of Obamacare, and it's hard to believe that hospitals could react that quickly.
Then, the very instant that penalties begin for high readmission rates, everything stabilizes again. Apparently America's hospitals unanimously decided that once they'd hit a certain level, that was good enough and they wouldn't bother trying to improve even more.I can think of several explanations, e.g., it may be that:
- Hospitals are refusing admission to particularly sick patients, likely to get re-admitted;
- Patients are getting re-admitted to other hospitals;
- Hospitals are giving patients prophylactic antibiotics, which reduces re-admits, but also creates new antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
- Hospitals are steering them to clinics and outpatient services, (the "good" outcome).