Current Medicare News and Events

Current Medicare News and Events, Medicare News Articles.
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Setting hospital prices would save more than increasing competition or price transparency
Spending on hospital services is the largest health spending category in the U.S., accounting for one-third of national health expenses. A new study finds that among strategies to curb hospital prices among the commercially insured population in the U.S., direct price regulations such as setting rates are likely to achieve greater savings than other approaches like increasing competition or improving price transparency. (2021-02-18)

As insurers end grace period for COVID-19 hospital costs, study estimates potential bills
Hospital care for COVID-19 has been free to most patients, but insurance companies may be ending that. A study of flu-related hospital bills suggests a coronavirus hospital stay could now cost patients $1,000 out of their own pocket, on average. (2021-02-18)

New report calls for universal coverage of long-term care for older adults in U.S.
The COVID-19 pandemic's heavy toll on older Americans highlights the need to strengthen the nation's safety net for people in need of long-term services and supports, according to a new report published by Milbank Quarterly. The report proposes a system of universal coverage to support the long-term care of all older Americans. (2021-02-18)

The Lancet Healthy Longevity: Study finds racial and ethnic disparities in flu vaccine uptake among people aged 65 and older in the USA
A new study published today in The Lancet Healthy Longevity journal has found significant racial and ethnic disparities in uptake of the seasonal influenza vaccine among people aged 65 years and over in the USA. (2021-02-18)

Low-value health care drops only marginally despite effort to curb practices
An estimated 10% to 20% of health care spending consists of low-value care -- patient services that offer no net clinical benefit in specific scenarios. A new study finds that spending on low-value health care among fee-for-service Medicare recipients dropped only marginally from 2014 to 2018, despite both a national campaign to better educate clinicians and increasing use of payment revisions that discourage wasteful care. (2021-02-16)

Geisel study examines variation in intensity of fracture-associated prescription drug use
A Dartmouth-led study reveals that there is substantial variation across different regions of the country in the intensity of fracture-associated drug use among long-term care residents, and that areas with greater use of these prescription drugs experience higher fracture rates. (2021-02-16)

Model predicts likelihood of persistent high-dose opioid use after knee surgery
A new study published in Arthritis Care & Research has identified 10 readily available clinical factors that may predict which patients will persistently use high doses of opioids in the year following knee replacement surgery. (2021-02-03)

Does where older US adults die affect their wellbeing at the end of life?
Where people die can affect the quality of their deaths and the end-of-life care that they receive. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that satisfaction with end-of-life care was rated highest when individuals died at home. (2021-01-21)

Primary care physicians account for a minority of spending on low-value care
Primary care physicians (PCPs) are seen as gatekeepers to reduce spending on low-value health care services, which have been estimated to cost the health care system up to $100 billion annually. A brief research report published in Annals of Internal Medicine analyzed how much low-value spending is directly related to PCPs' services and referral decisions. (2021-01-18)

Endocrine Society recommends government negotiation and other policies to lower out-of-pocket costs
The Endocrine Society is calling on policymakers to include government negotiation as part of an overall strategy to reduce insulin prices in its updated position statement published today in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. (2021-01-12)

An epidemic of overdiagnosis: Melanoma diagnoses sky rocket
In a Sounding Board article, Welch and colleagues present evidence for why they believe that increased diagnostic scrutiny is the primary driver of the rapid rise in melanoma diagnoses. (2021-01-06)

People in rural areas less likely to receive specialty care for neurologic conditions
A new study has found that while the prevalence of neurologic conditions like dementia, stroke, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis (MS) is consistent across the U.S., the distribution of neurologists is not, and people in more rural areas may be less likely to receive specialty care for certain neurologic conditions. The study, funded by the American Academy of Neurology, is published in the December 23, 2020, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. (2020-12-23)

Dartmouth-led research featured in national journal focused on health system performance
New findings published by Dartmouth researchers and featured in a special issue of Health Services Research, are helping to generate new insights and knowledge about the prevalence, roles, and impact of integrated health systems. (2020-12-15)

Cost information increases utility of decision aids for shared decision making
Cost information, when paired with information about clinical treatment options, greatly enhances the value of shared decision making, reported a FAIR Health brief released today. This was among the lessons learned from a FAIR Health initiative presenting patient decision aids for shared decision making in palliative care scenarios, as described in the brief Cost Information Enhances Shared Decision Making: Lessons from FAIR Health's Shared Decision-Making Initiative. (2020-12-10)

Donor stem cell transplant shown to improve survival in older patients with MDS
A new clinical trial offers the most compelling evidence to date that a donor stem cell transplant can improve survival rates for older patients with higher-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators report at the virtual 62nd American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting. (2020-12-04)

Virtual doctor visits are increasing, but use differs by patient race, age and insurance
A new study published December 4, 2020, in the journal JMIR Medical Informatics examines the increase in telemedicine visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and recommends adopting policies that encourage virtual visits going forward. (2020-12-04)

Mortality rate after cancer surgery drops, but gap persists between Black and white patients
Mortality rates after cancer surgery declined for Black as well as white patients during a recent ten-year period, although the mortality gap between the two groups did not narrow, according to new research by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard University investigators. (2020-12-03)

JNIS™: cuts in Medicare payments jeopardize patient access to care
The final 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) issued this week by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will result in reimbursement cuts in the range of 10% for neurointerventional procedures, according to a detailed analysis published last week in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery™, the leading international peer-reviewed journal for the clinical field of neurointerventional surgery. Practitioners warn that this measure will jeopardize access to lifesaving care for individuals experiencing strokes, aneurysms and other deadly conditions. (2020-12-03)

Older adults with dementia exhibit financial 'symptoms' up to six years before diagnosis
A new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors found that Medicare beneficiaries who go on to be diagnosed with dementia are more likely to miss payments on bills as early as six years before a clinical diagnosis. (2020-11-30)

More than 1.1 million deaths among Medicare recipients due to high cost of drugs
WASHINGTON, DC and SAN DIEGO, CA - Nov. 19, 2020 - More than 1.1 million Medicare patients could die over the next decade because they cannot afford to pay for their prescription medications, according to a new study released today by the West Health Policy Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan policy research group and Xcenda, the research arm of the drug distributor AmerisourceBergen. (2020-11-19)

61 healthcare groups urge Congress to support implementing the physician fee schedule
Today, more than 60 healthcare stakeholders, representing Medicare providers, signed a letter urging congressional leaders to support bipartisan legislation that would implement the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service's (CMS) Calendar Year 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) final rule as written. (2020-11-17)

Changes in outpatient care delivery, telemedicine during COVID-19 pandemic
To understand how telemedicine compensated for declining outpatient volume and geographic variation in changing patterns of outpatient care, researchers examined telemedicine and in-person outpatient visits in 2020 among a national sample of 16.7 million people with commercial or Medicare Advantage insurance. (2020-11-16)

Most Medicare beneficiaries say they don't receive cognitive assessments
In a survey of Medicare beneficiaries, approximately one-half reported having an annual wellness visit, but only about a quarter of total respondents reported receiving a structured cognitive assessment at an annual wellness visit, even though, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), detection of cognitive impairment is a required component of the visit. (2020-11-13)

UC research finds low rates of contraceptive use in women with kidney failure
New research from the University of Cincinnati finds that women with kidney failure have low rates of contraceptive use. The study, published in the journal Kidney Medicine, finds an overall contraceptive use rate of 5.3% among women with kidney failure undergoing dialysis in the United States. (2020-11-12)

Six ways primary care "medical homes" are lowering health care spending
New analysis of 394 U.S. primary care practices identifies the aspects of care delivery that are associated with lower health care spending and lower utilization of emergency care and hospital admissions. (2020-11-10)

Potentially preventable hospitalizations among older adults: 2010-2014
When complications due to diabetes, asthma, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure and other common conditions lead patients to visit the ER, researchers and health care quality administrators may label these visits as ''potentially preventable hospitalizations.'' That is, with good outpatient care, these visits could have been potentially avoided. Potentially preventable hospitalizations are costly and can negatively impact the health and well-being of individuals, particularly if they are older. (2020-11-10)

Osteoporosis is underdiagnosed and undertreated in older men
A new study reveals that many older men who experience a fracture are still underdiagnosed with and undertreated for osteoporosis. Details of the study was presented at ACR Convergence, the American College Rheumatology's annual meeting. (2020-11-06)

COVID-19 test result turnaround time for residents, staff in US nursing homes
This study used the Medicare COVID-19 Nursing Home Database, a federally mandated weekly survey of all Medicare-certified skilled nursing facilities, to examine facility-reported test result turnaround time. (2020-10-30)

Home-time metric needed to judge hospital readmissions, studies suggest
DALLAS - Oct. 28, 2020 - Two new studies suggest Medicare's system of penalizing hospitals if too many patients are readmitted within 30 days should also look at whether the patients were well enough to remain in their home during that time. (2020-10-28)

Report calls for easing access, improving home health for older adults
Older adults have suffered disproportionately from the COVID-19 pandemic, with increased risk of severe illness and death reported across the globe. A new report argues that one policy change made during the pandemic should remain in place after the novel coronavirus virus fades away: better access to home health services through Medicare. In a set of recommendations published by the Commonwealth Fund, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and Duke University argue for regulatory changes to expand the Medicare home health benefit. (2020-10-22)

Study reveals disparities in access to high-quality surgical care
Among U.S. patients diagnosed with breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer from 2004 to 2016, those who were uninsured or had Medicare or Medicaid were less likely than privately insured patients to receive surgical care at high-volume hospitals. The findings are published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society (ACS). (2020-10-21)

Less invasive ventilation use grows dramatically, without needed data
Analysis of nearly 2.5 million Medicare-funded hospitalizations near the end of a patient's life found the use of non-invasive ventilation has increased substantially, even though there is little data to support its use in certain patient groups, such as those with cancer and dementia near the end of life. (2020-10-19)

Ten or more medications, often prescribed to older heart failure patients, raises concerns
More than half of older patients hospitalized for heart failure are discharged with 10 or more prescriptions, and most are not medications to treat heart failure or other cardiovascular conditions. This is important because older patients with heart failure taking 10 or more medications may be at risk for harm related to high medication burden. Regular medication review at each appointment is key to tailoring decisions for each patient while considering their overall health status. (2020-10-13)

Clashing medications put older adults at risk but many haven't had a pharmacist check them
Two-thirds of older adults rely on at least two prescription drugs, and many take over-the-counter medicines and supplements as well. Some of those pills, capsules and tablets may interact with one another in ways that could put them at risk. But a new poll shows that most people over 50 haven't connected with a pharmacist to check for potential clashes among all the things they take, or the potential to save money on them. (2020-10-07)

Caregiving factors may affect hospitalization risk among disabled older adults
Few studies have investigated the potential impact of caregivers and caregiver factors on older adults' likelihood of being hospitalized. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has now provided some insights. (2020-09-23)

Bundled payment model reduces health disparities for Black patients
A new nationwide model of care for hip and knee joint replacements appears to reduce disparities in health outcomes for Black patients, according to new research led by Oregon Health & Science University. (2020-09-22)

Falling Medicare reimbursement rates for orthopaedic trauma
The amount Medicare reimburses for orthopaedic trauma surgery has fallen by nearly one-third over the past two decades, reports a study in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer. (2020-09-21)

Private health insurers paid hospitals 247% of what medicare would
While recent hospital price transparency initiatives have increased information about procedure-level prices available to patients, employers who pay for most private insurance have little usable information about the prices negotiated on their behalf. A new study based on data from more than half the nation's hospitals finds that prices paid to hospitals nationally during 2018 by privately insured patients averaged 247% of what Medicare would have paid, with wide variation in prices among states. (2020-09-18)

Expenditures for primary care may affect how primary care is delivered
This study looks at trends in out-of-pocket and total visit expenditures for visits to primary care physicians. Using the 2002-2017 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), the authors described changes in out-of-pocket and total visit expenditures for primary care visits for Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. If current trends continue, the authors would expect increasing difficulty with primary care physician access, particularly for Medicaid patients. (2020-09-15)

Primary care clinicians drove increasing use of Medicare's chronic care management codes
To address the problem of care fragmentation for Medicare recipients with multiple chronic conditions, Medicare introduced Chronic Care Management (CCM) in 2015 to reimburse clinicians for care management and coordination. The study showed that CCM use increased over this four-year period, driven largely by primary care physicians. (2020-09-15)

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