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Sixty-seven percent of skilled nursing facilities in Maine have been penalized by Medicare under a new program that tracks monthly hospital readmission rates.

Facilities that see residents return to the hospital at the highest rates face up to a 2 percent reduction in their payments. Deb Fournier, chief operating officer of Maine Veterans’ Homes, said Maine’s higher numbers can be attributed, in part, to the health of residents.

“So our residents tend to be more frail, with complex health conditions, than perhaps others in other states,” she said.

Four Maine Veterans’ Homes locations were penalized under the program, but the Scarborough facility received a bonus.

Fournier said the results are a reminder that facilities need to better communicate with residents and families about advanced care planning.

“The failsafe is frequently to send the person back to the hospital, when sometimes the family or the residents might have made a different decision had that decision taken place earlier, and not during a crisis,” she said.

According to an analysis by Kaiser Health News, more than 11,000 skilled nursing facilities across the U.S. were penalized, compared with 4,000 that received bonuses.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.