Bennet, Mesa County Health Care Providers Highlight Efforts to Take Colorado 'Care Transitions' Model to National Stage

Hold Roundtable to Discuss Inclusion of Mesa County Model to Deliver High Quality Care at Lower Cost in Health Care Reform

Bennet Bill Works to Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates Using Proven ‘Care Transitions' Model Developed and Implemented in Colorado

Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today met with health care providers at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction to highlight the inclusion of language he authored to improve patient care and lower costs using a proven ‘care transitions' model developed in Colorado in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Earlier this year, Bennet introduced the Medicare Care Transitions Act of 2009 and has since worked closely with Mesa County health care providers and Senate leadership to ensure Colorado's model of patient care was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"Colorado has incredible examples of how our nation should coordinate patient care. From Rocky Mountain Health Plans on the Western Slope to the University of Colorado at Denver to Denver Health, Colorado is a leader in efficient patient care that lowers readmission rates and health care costs," Bennet said.

"Across our nation, too many seniors are being readmitted to hospitals even though it often is completely preventable," continued Bennet. "The Senate health care bill would bring Colorado's transitions of care model to the national stage, ensure better patient care for our seniors and their families, and help to lower health care costs. I want to thank all the Coloradans who worked with me on this important initiative."

For every five Medicare patients released from the hospital, one is re-admitted within a month, and more than three-quarters of these readmissions are potentially preventable. This cycle of re-hospitalization disrupts care for Colorado's seniors and costs Medicare more than $17 billion dollars every year. High re-hospitalization rates also put an increased burden on providers who often have trouble coordinating care with patients after they leave their health care setting.

Colorado has been a leader in developing transitional care programs to lower re-hospitalization rates. Dr. Eric Coleman, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, developed the Care Transitions Intervention, a program that helps patients take ownership of their care and regain their independence after hospitalization. This program shrunk costly readmission rates at hospitals by as much as 35%-50% in some communities.

In addition, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, which serves the Western Slope, ensures timely follow-up care as patients move from one setting to another and leads the nations with a readmission rate of 1.8%, lower than one-fifth of the national average at 10%.

The Senate-approved health care bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, establishes a Community Care Transitions Program. Medicare would run a five-year pilot program to fund partnering eligible hospitals and community-based organizations to provide transitional care services to Medicare beneficiaries at the highest risk of preventable re-hospitalization.

Eligible hospitals would be those identified by the Medicare program as having readmission rates above the 75th percentile. The Secretary of Health and Human Services would give preferences to hospitals that disproportionately serve medically underserved populations, as well as well as rural and small community hospitals.