Implementation of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations among Nursing Facility Residents reflected recognition of the adverse impacts of excess hospitalizations on the cost of care and the well-being of long-stay residents. Prior studies of the initiative have found favorable effects on reducing hospitalizations and costs, but were these accompanied by unintended consequences for well-being? We tracked all-cause mortality rates in each year for the period 2014–16 among long-stay residents at nursing facilities in seven states that participated in the initiative, and we found no evidence of excess mortality. The initiative’s effects on mortality rates were small—ranging from a reduction of 0.8 percentage points to an increase of 1.5 percentage points, relative to changes in mortality rates at comparison-group facilities—and none of the effects was significant. This suggests that efforts to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations among nursing facility residents can succeed without increasing mortality rates.

Nursing Facilities Can Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations Without Increasing Mortality Risk For Residents, Health Affairs, 37(10), 2018.