OBJECTIVE: We explored post-Affordable Care Act hospital and skilled nursing facility (SNF) perspectives in discharge and admission practices.
METHOD: Interviews were conducted with 138 administrative personnel in 16 hospitals and 25 SNFs in eight U.S. markets and qualitatively analyzed.
RESULTS: Hospitals may use prior referral rates and patients' geographic proximity to SNFs to guide discharges. SNFs with higher hospital referral rates often use licensed nurses to screen patients to admit more preferred patients. While SNFs with lower hospital referral rates use marketing strategies to increase admissions, these patients are often less preferred due to lower reimbursement or complex care needs.
CONCLUSION: An unintended consequence of increased hospital-SNF integration may be greater disparity. SNFs with high hospital referral rates may admit well-reimbursed or less medically complex patients than SNFs with lower referral rates. Without policy remediation, SNFs with lower referral rates may thus care for more medically complex long-term care patients.