“UMass Memorial Tests Software to Curb Hospital Readmissions”
(Wall Street Journal — December 3, 2012)
Until Oct.1 this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) paid hospitals a flat rate when a patient was admitted with a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia….Now, the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, a section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Ac, has begun penalizing hospitals if their 30-day readmission rates for patients exceed national averages.
“Study: Hospice Rules May Keep Away Patients”
(Kaiser Health News — December 3, 2012)
The study found 61 percent of hospices would not accept patients who wanted chemotherapy, which can be used to help ease their pain in their dying days. Fifty-five percent would not accept patients who could only be fed intravenously, and 40 percent would not accept patients who were receiving blood transfusions.
“Decisions doctors must make to avoid Medicare penalties”
(American Medical News — November 12, 2012)
2013 will be a crucial year for physicians to avoid possible pay reductions under quality reporting and health information technology programs. A physician’s decision not to report Medicare quality measures or participate in paperless prescribing and health record programs in 2013 will be a costly one in the long run.
“If Medicare Tells You ‘No’”
(Wall Street Journal — October 18, 2012)
There are several things Medicare beneficiaries can do to reduce their costs….[O]ne that most beneficiaries don’t pursue is appealing denied medical claims. While the appeals process can be complicated and time-consuming, those who press their cases enjoy relatively high success rates.
“Medicare Fines Over Hospitals’ Readmitted Patients”
(Associated Press — October 1, 2012)
As of Monday, Medicare will start fining hospitals that have too many patients being readmitted within 30 days of discharge due to complications. The penalties are part of a broader push under President Barack Obama’s health care law to improve quality while also trying to save taxpayers’ money.
“Obama’s health care plan negatively impacts seniors”
(Centre Daily — State College, PA — September 20, 2012)
President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will seriously impact the health care and health insurance of 40 million American seniors on Medicare. I am one of them. Those of us older than 65 represent 13 percent of the population but we consume 36 percent of the $2 trillion of the annual cost of health care. This is how we are to be dealt with.
(New York Times — September 16, 2012)
We need death panels. Well, maybe not death panels, exactly, but unless we start allocating health care resources more prudently — rationing by its proper name — the exploding cost of Medicare will swamp the federal budget.
“More Concerns About Observation Status: Hospitals Join the Chorus”
(Center for Medicare Advocacy — September 13, 2012)
Hospital case managers and the hospital industry have joined the chorus of those opposed to observations status — a designation that renders a beneficiary ineligible for Medicare-covered skilled nursing facility (SNF) care.
“Medicare: Inpatient or Outpatient”
(AARP — August 24, 2012)
Staying in the hospital without being formally admitted can cost you thousands of dollars. Under the rules, Medicare picks up the whole tab for the first 20 days of skilled nursing for rehab or other care in an approved facility, but only if someone has spent at least three full days in the hospital as an admitted patient. If, instead, a patient has been under observation — for all or part of that time — he or she is responsible for the entire cost of rehab.
“Rationing Health Care More Fairly”
(New York Times — August 21, 2012)
Older adults are understandably anxious about the future financing of Medicare….Putting a value on life, as it were, is controversial. The National Institute in Britain has denied or limited coverage of expensive drugs for ailments like pancreatic cancer, macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s. But in a world of limited budgets, such decisions must be made.
“To Save Money, Save the Health Care Act”
(New York Times — November 3, 2010)
Perhaps most important, the legislation creates an Independent Payment Advisory Board [IPAB], a panel of independent medical experts who will look for more ways to improve Medicare’s cast-effectiveness. Under the law, any policy that the board issues takes effect unless legislation to block it is passed by Congress and signed by the president. This way, inertia works in favor of cost containment rather than against it.