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 Introduction

The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, initiated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), levies financial penalties against hospitals with higher-than-expected 30-day Medicare readmission rates for selected conditions.1

Originally, the HRRP targeted unplanned readmissions that followed hospitalization for heart attack, heart failure, or pneumonia; it has since been expanded to include readmissions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), total hip and knee arthroplasty, or coronary artery bypass graft surgery.2

What Is COPD?

According to the COPD Foundation, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness, frequent coughing (with and without sputum), and wheezing.2

Impact of COPD on Health Care Costs

The COPD Foundation has an informative graphic on the variety of ways that COPD costs our society:

Click on thumbnail to view COPD Foundation report

The majority of COPD expenditures are due to complications and hospitalizations, many of which are preventable. As with other chronic diseases, improved health care management can reduce poor outcomes and decrease costs related to COPD. Better care and staying on treatment can lower the avoidable costs and make patients feel better, which increases productivity and decreases absenteeism. Thus, effective management of COPD patients can result in decreased costs, increased productivity, and decreased absenteeism.3