A handful of Montana hospitals will be penalized starting this Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The penalties are due to high readmission rates for medicaid patients.

"Five Montana hospitals have excessive readmission rates and will have a reduction in their Medicare reimbursement for fiscal year 2016, which begins October 1," said CMS spokesman Michael Fierberg. "Those five hospitals are St. Peters in Helena, Benefice Hospital in Great Falls, St. James Hospital in Butte, Northern Montana Hospital in Havre and St. Vincent's in Billings."

For the past fiscal year, Community Medical Center in Missoula was penalized with a very low, 0.01 percent decrease in Medicare reimbursements from CMS, but the good news is that they will not see a penalty in 2016. In fact, Fierberg says the relatively low number of hospitals being penalized in Montana is a very good sign.

"This is actually a pretty good report for Montana Hospitals," Fierberg said. "The percentage of Montana hospitals that are being penalized is lower than the percentage in almost any other state in the country. Montana's percentage is about 9 or 10 percent, but the national average is actually around 65 percent of hospitals getting penalized."

Benefice hospital in Great Falls received a very low penalty of 0.02 percent and Fierberg said it almost didn’t make the list at all.