Hospitals continue to increase their focus on post-acute care as they assume greater responsibility for patient outcomes following discharge from the hospital. The goal of WHA’s recently formed Post-Acute Care Work Group is to develop policy initiatives that improve the ability of hospitals and health systems to provide or locate post-acute care for their patients.
The Work Group held its second meeting March 3 at the WHA offices in Madison and began framing principles that will guide the development of its policy recommendations. The Work Group decided to focus its efforts on post-acute care provided during the first 90 days following a patient’s discharge from an acute care hospital. This focus is due, in part, to the impact of federal payment policies, including readmission penalties and bundled payments.
Additional guiding principles developed by the Work Group at the meeting recognize the increasing need for hospitals and post-acute providers to closely collaborate to improve patient outcomes after a hospitalization. The Work Group also recognized the challenges facing hospitals when planning for post-acute care for specific patient populations, including pediatric patients, patients with the most complex medical needs, patients who have dementia and mental health challenges and patients at the end of life. Shortages of direct care workers in post-acute settings, burdensome regulatory requirements, and reimbursement policies will also be addressed by the Work Group as it develops its policy recommendations. Finally, the Work Group will examine ways to improve access to high-quality, timely post-acute care.
The Work Group reviewed provisions in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill that affect post-acute care. Some of the significant items that may have an impact on post-acute care are rate increases targeted to the nursing home and personal care direct care workforce; elimination of the waiting lists for the Children’s Long-Term Support Program; increased funding for the Wisconsin Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program; and funding for the Board on Aging and Long-Term Care to provide ombudsman services to participants in the Include, Respect, I Self-Direct (IRIS) program.
WHA will continue to monitor these and other budget items, as well as advocate for provisions advantageous to our membership.