BACKGROUND: The 2008 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hospital-acquired conditions policy limited additional payment for conditions deemed reasonably preventable.
OBJECTIVE: To examine whether this policy was associated with decreases in billing rates for 2 targeted conditions, vascular catheter-associated infections (VCAI) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI).
STUDY POPULATION: Adult Medicare patients admitted to 569 acute care hospitals in California, Massachusetts, or New York and subject to the policy. DESIGN We used an interrupted times series design to assess whether the hospital-acquired conditions policy was associated with changes in billing rates for VCAI and CAUTI.
RESULTS: Before the policy, billing rates for VCAI and CAUTI were increasing (prepolicy odds ratio per quarter for VCAI, 1.17 [95% CI, 1.11-1.23]; for CAUTI, 1.19 [1.16-1.23]). The policy was associated with an immediate drop in billing rates for VCAI and CAUTI (odds ratio for change at policy implementation for VCAI, 0.75 [95% CI, 0.69-0.81]; for CAUTI, 0.87 [0.79-0.96]). In the postpolicy period, we observed a decreasing trend in the billing rate for VCAI and a leveling-off in the billing rate for CAUTI (postpolicy odds ratio per quarter for VCAI, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.97-0.99]; for CAUTI, 0.99 [0.97-1.00]).
CONCLUSIONS: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hospital-acquired conditions policy appears to have been associated with immediate reductions in billing rates for VCAI and CAUTI, followed by a slight decreasing trend or leveling-off in rates. These billing rates, however, may not correlate with changes in clinically meaningful patient outcomes and may reflect changes in coding practices.