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Medicare eyes costs in Miami

SERENITY IS SELECTED AS ONE OF THE HOME HEALTH CARE AGENCIES TO PARTICIPATE IN NEW NATIONAL MEDICARE PILOT STUDY

Miami has been chosen as the site for a pilot project to find ways to reduce Medicare costs.

BY JOHN DORSCHNER

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Long notorious for its high healthcare costs, Miami has been chosen by Medicare as one of 14 communities for a pilot project seeking to eliminate unnecessary hospital readmissions.

”Our data show that nearly one in five patients who leave the hospital today will be readmitted within the next month, and that more than three-quarters of these readmissions are potentially preventable,” Medicare Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera said in a statement.

Miami has long been known for having the highest Medicare costs per senior citizen in the nation — or close to it. The average Miami senior costs about twice as much per year as does one in Minneapolis.

The program will be overseen by Florida’s Medicare Quality Improvement Organization, a Tampa-based subsidiary of Health Services Holdings.

Readmissions can be lowered by ”approaching healthcare quality from a community-wide perspective, and focusing on how all of the members of an area’s healthcare team can better work together in the best interests of their shared patient population,” Frizzera said.

Medicare’s concept involves promoting “seamless transitions from the hospital to home, skilled nursing care, or home healthcare.”

Rather than dictating a solution from Washington, Medicare administrators are hoping that the 14 local teams can find what works best in their regions.

Other communities participating in the pilot program are Providence, R.I.; Upper Capitol Region, N.Y.; Western Pennsylvania; Southwestern New Jersey; Metro Atlanta East; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Evansville, Ind.; Greater Lansing, Mich.; Omaha, Neb.; Baton Rouge, La.; Northwest Denver, Colo.; Harlingen, Texas; and Whatcom County, Wash.

Dartmouth Atlas studies of Miami have shown that high numbers of specialists and hospital beds seem to drive up costs, with patients more likely to spend their last days in expensive intensive-care wards rather than at home.

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