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Frequent flyers and healthcare reform

Ray Suarez

Medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay investigates readmission penalties, an element of the Affordable Care Act designed to reduce costs and lead to more coordinated healthcare once patients are released from the hospital.

Check out Dr. Senay on Morning Joe!

Later, anchor Ray Suarez interviews Dr. Michael Sparer of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

This week’s “American Voices” features Lynn Reichgott, co-creator of a program that helps seniors coordinate their care with other seniors.

Read the show transcript


This episode originally aired on December 28, 2012


Frequent fliers

A critical look at how the Affordable Care Act is pushing hospitals to improve coordinated care for patients leaving the hospital. The program is intended to curb hospital readmissions among Medicare patients.

Interview: Dr. Michael Sparer

Anchor Ray Suarez speaks with Dr. Michael Sparer, the Department Chair of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

American Voices: Lynn Reichgott

A new perspective on senior care from Lynn Reichgott, President of At Home on the Sound, an upstate New York-based non-profit that works to help elderly people enjoy a vibrant lifestyle while remaining in their homes.

Hospital compare

Learn how to us the government’s data to compare readmission, survival rates and other technical and consumer issues for your neighborhood hospitals.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.


  • Victor Still

    The compare hospitals web page mentioned ( on the program, unfortunately results in an error message ( that the page can not be found.

  • Betsy Young

    @ Victor Still: I had success with this link:

  • seniorcitizen

    If medicare did not require the hospitals to release their patients before they are medically ready to leave, they wouldn’t have so many readmissions.

  • Mark Perloe

    CMS has previously explored various interventions that can reduce hospital readmission rates. Many of the readmissions are truly unnecessary. Tools have been created to improve care at the hospitals, coordination with primary care physicians and nursing homes. Grants for electronic medical records and the Interact program at nursing homes, as well as paying physicians for end of life counseling, have all be effective tools. Your program implied that only hospitals are involved, but CMS has a major effort that involves various healthcare organizations and nursing homes within their region to improve transitions and reduce readmissions. Pilot studies have shown a $1 invested in reducing readmissions saves over $2. Your program misses the point in that the fines are based on unecessary readmissions and are scored for acuity. Penalties are focused on reducing hospital acquired infections, and things like bed sores which are preventable.

  • BettyM

    Many hospitals have eliminated social workers believing nurses can fill that role. Continuity of care is one of the areas in which social workers are trained. They can connect patients with community resources, find out where a free phone is available if the patient cannot afford one, arrange home care, and generally enable patients to remain in place. For some illnesses, the hospital is the worst place to be. In some cases, referring patients to hospice care may be the best solution. By eliminating social workers, hospitals have “cut off their nose to spite their face.” Allowing social workers to fill the role of connecting patients with the services they need will, in the long run, save hospitals money. BAM, Licensed Clinical Social Worker


    as usual the government is involved where it shouldn’t be. DRG’s (remember them)
    HMO’s etc, have destroyed the practice of medicine in the US. All people respond differently to disease, surgery , hospitalizations. You cannot quantify and qualify a patient with disease “X”, because the code book says so. There isn’t anyroom for medical arts in this system. if you don’t know what that is don’t dictate to me and my patients! Janet E RN, BSN

  • Liz K gives the nursing home that dropped my dd on his head 4 of 5 stars 7 months after he died on’t use to pick a home .

  • J Sena

    wonder why they did not mention hospitals releasing patients too early as a major cause for “frequent flyers”

  • David Young

    And you have it wrong!

    this is directly what the Government belongs!

    Hospitals that don’t do the job perfectly need to be penalized heavily so they stop pretending that medical care is a place fore those that wish to be RICH!

    they focus on Medicaid care and expect to make a LARGE profit off a Social Program, that is not just immoral, it should be crime just to have the thought!

  • David Young

    they don’t require release, they simply stop paying!

    Hospitals should NOT be looking for Profits so they can give Stock Holders
    dividend payments !

    Stock in hospitals should be an altruistic move, not a profitable move!

  • David Young

    Corporate America is totally to blame and they need their wings clipped in a major way!
    They have let the Revolving door maneuver to control their profits the same Corporate prisons work, and this should not just be penalized, it should be Criminal with LONG prison sentences for those who pushed the idea!