According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2016, the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which is included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and applies financial penalties to hospitals that have higher-than-expected readmission rates for targeted conditions, resulted in a decline in readmission rates:The study analyzed data from 3387 hospitals.
- From 2007 to 2015, readmission rates for targeted conditions declined from 21.5% to 17.8%, and rates for nontargeted conditions declined from 15.3% to 13.1%.
- Shortly after passage of the ACA, the readmission rate declined quickly, especially for targeted conditions, and then continued to fall at a slower rate after October 2012 for both targeted and nontargeted conditions.
- Stays in observation units for targeted conditions increased from 2.6% in 2007 to 4.7% in 2015, and rates for nontargeted conditions increased from 2.5% to 4.2%.
- Within hospitals, there was no significant association between changes in observation-unit stays and readmissions after implementation of the ACA.