By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new report shows that the country is saving money on treating heart failure patients. Heart failure-related hospitalizations for Medicare patients have dropped nearly 30% and saved the government $4.1-billion over a ten-year period. But those numbers come with some caveats.

It’s another issue where cost is raising its ugly head in medicine. Here’s the situation: a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that Medicare patients with heart failure are less likely to be admitted to the hospital.

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The reason is this: what the government is doing is penalizing hospitals if they readmit any Medicare patients within 30 days after they have been discharged. Now, if people are getting proper care at home — proper medications, follow-ups, home care — that’s a good thing. But many people don’t get that care and they come right back to the hospital.

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That $4.1-billion that’s being saved needs to be given back to the system to try and help those patients get that proper care when they’re going home. Right now, hospitals are being penalized and patients aren’t necessarily getting the proper care.

Reported by Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio 1060

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