Other Medicare “Fixes” Under Discussion

Several other Medicare payment fixes — known as “Extenders” because they extend current payment policies that would otherwise expire soon — are also under development.  Their total cost is about $1 billion, so they don’t get quite as much attention.  It is very likely that the extender package could be attached to the doc fix bill.  They include Section 508 […]

CMS’ Tavenner Wins Praise

Marilyn Tavenner, tapped by the White House to replace Don Berwick at CMS, is receiving bi-partisan praise in Congress and support from the health communtiy.  Click here http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/medicare/195611-health-groups-back-tavenner-for-top-post-at-cms for a Capitol Hill media report.  She is getting some challenge from GOP stalwarts in the Senate.  Click here http://rpc.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Blog&ContentRecord_id=67aa64d8-15b0-4cb2-b4f6-89867f1baf34 to see what the GOP Policy Committee had to say. Berwick’s […]

Berwick Says System is Fraught with Waste

In a final interview upon his departure from CMS, Don Berwick identified five of the biggest problems confronting America’s health care system. WASHINGTON — The official in charge of Medicare andMedicaid for the last 17 months says that 20 percent to 30 percent of health spending is “waste” that yields no benefit to patients, and that some of the needless […]

Meaningful Use Requirements Delayed

HHS officials last week announced that the agency plans to delay the start of Stage 2 of the Meaningul Use requirements of EHR from 2013 to 2014.  Under current rules, providers that participate in the program this year would have to satisfy Stage 2 standards in 2013, whereas providers who waited until 2012 to participate wouldn’t have to satisfy requirements […]

More Docs Adopting EHR Systems

Physicians are adopting EHR systems now more quickly, according to a new national survey by the CDC.  In 2011, 57% of office-based physicians used electronic medical record/electronic health record systems, with use by state ranging from 40% in Louisiana to 84% in North Dakota. Key findings Data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey In 2011, 57% of […]

More Jobs in Hospital Administration than Patient Care: New Report

More Americans are working according to the new jobs report out Friday.  This includes more jobs at hospitals, but according to a USA Today story last week, more jobs are being created in administration than direct patient care. After New Hampshire’s legislature severely cut Medicaid funding last summer, hospitals throughout the state began shedding jobs. Exeter Health Resources, […]

DME Competitive Bidding Program Expands

Round 2 competitive bidding for Medicare DME gets underway today, according to CMS.  The competitive bidding process will be expanded from 9 to 91 metro areas of the country.  CMS touts and explains the changes here. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced operational details for the next stage in a program that sets new, lower […]

Medicare Expands Obesity Coverage

Medicare announced last week it is expanding its coverage for obesity screening and counseling.  For a beneficiary who screens positive for obesity with a body mass index ? 30 kg/m2, the benefit would include one face-to-face counseling visit each week for one month and one face-to-face counseling visit every other week for an additional five months. The Centers for Medicare […]

$220 Million in Exchange Funds Released; 29 States Now on Board

HHS last week awarded nearly $220 million in Affordable Insurance Exchange grants to 13 states to help them create Insurance Exchanges. HHS also announced that states that run Exchanges have more options than originally proposed when it comes to determining eligibility for tax credits and Medicaid. And states have more time to apply for “Level One” Exchange grants.  29 states […]

CMS Issues Final MLR Regulation

CMS on Friday issued a final regulation that will ensure health insurance companies spend at least 80 percent of consumers’ health insurance premiums on medical care.  Insurance companies that fail to meet the new standard are required to provide a rebate to consumers.  These are modifications to the current rules that took effect almost a year ago.  Agents and […]

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