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Current Medicare News and Events, Medicare News Articles.
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Dual chamber ICDs show higher risk of complications
Even though patients receiving an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) for primary prevention often receive a dual-chamber ICD, an analysis that included more than 32,000 patients receiving an ICD without indications for pacing finds that the use of a dual-chamber device compared with a single-chamber device was associated with a higher risk of device-related complications and similar 1-year mortality and hospitalization outcomes, according to a study in the May 15 issue of JAMA. (2013-05-14)

Pharmacist-directed anticoagulation service can impact patient satisfaction
As hospitals look for ways to improve patient satisfaction and boost their Medicare reimbursement, a Henry Ford Hospital study found that an inpatient pharmacist-directed anticoagulation service (PDAS) might be an unexpected opportunity. In a survey of 689 patients who received inpatient anticoagulant therapy, patient satisfaction increased significantly using the PDAS compared to patients' reviews of their care in a previous pharmacy model. (2013-05-10)

Private insurers' Medicare Advantage plans cost Medicare an extra $34.1 billion in 2012
Private insurance companies that participate in Medicare under the Medicare Advantage program and its predecessors have cost the publicly funded program for the elderly and disabled an extra $282.6 billion since 1985, most of it over the past eight years. In 2012 alone, private insurers were overpaid $34.1 billion. That's wasted money that should have been spent on improving patient care, shoring up Medicare's trust fund or reducing the federal deficit, researchers say. (2013-05-10)

Millions pass up free health subsidy
Low-income Medicare beneficiaries with poorer cognitive abilities are less likely to enroll in the Low Income Subsidy program, which provides nearly free prescription drug coverage for low-income adults. The findings suggest that even when presented with a single dominant option in the form of free additional drug coverage, many seniors fail to act in their own economic interests. (2013-05-06)

Curbing Medicare costs could drive some seniors out of program, study finds
With Medicare spending projected to account for one-fourth of all federal spending by 2037, discussion has intensified about how to find ways to lower the program's costs. A new study finds that strategies such as increasing premiums and raising the eligibility age can slow Medicare spending. But such approaches also could drive many elderly Americans from the program, leaving them with limited access to health services. (2013-05-06)

Proposed 'Medicare Essential' plan estimated to save $180 billion over 10 years
Combining Medicare's hospital, physician, and prescription drug coverage with commonly purchased private supplemental coverage into one health plan could produce national savings of $180 billion over a decade while improving care for beneficiaries, according to a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Commonwealth Fund published today in the May edition of Health Affairs. Medicare beneficiaries could save a total of $63 billion between 2014 and 2023. (2013-05-06)

Saving money on medical costs
A slowdown in the growth of US health care costs could mean that Americans could save as much as $770 billion on Medicare spending over the next decade, Harvard economists say. The slowdown, researchers say, is the result of a decline in the development of new drugs and technologies and increased efficiency in the health care system. If those trends continue, government estimates of health care spending could be off by hundreds of billions. (2013-05-06)

Increase in medical treatment caused greatest increase in US health care costs
The increasing proportion of the population that received treatment for a specific medical condition - called (2013-05-06)

Diagnosis, treatment of common outpatient disorder adds $238 million a year in ER costs
A relatively common urinary tract disorder that can usually be managed in an outpatient setting is adding an estimated $238 million a year to the cost of emergency room visits in the US, according to two new studies from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. (2013-05-04)

Archimedes collaborates with HHS and CMS to provide unprecedented access to health data
Archimedes will collaborate with the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide unprecedented access to synthetic CMS claims data. The collaborative efforts will use the Archimedes' ARCHeS Simulation and Analytics software suite to provide easy-to-use analytic support to analyze the Medicare Data Entrepreneurs' Synthetic Public Use File. (2013-05-01)

Retirement expert: Medicare already means-tested
The Obama administration's controversial proposal to means-test Medicare recipients has one small problem -- the Medicare program is already means-tested, says law professor Richard L. Kaplan, a University of Illinois expert on retirement benefits. (2013-04-29)

ASU experts say raising the age of eligibility and other reforms will put Medicare on solid footing
Raising the age of eligibility and reforming some Medicare practices can go a long way to making it sustainable, according to three Arizona State University healthcare policy experts. (2013-04-24)

1 million hours of psychiatrist time wasted yearly on phone approval for hospitalization
A study by Harvard researchers published today [Tuesday, April 23] in Annals of Emergency Medicine reports lengthy waits for severely ill psychiatric patients in need of immediate hospitalization in the Boston area, due in part to time-consuming prior authorizations required by insurance companies. Psychiatrists spent, on average, 38 minutes on the telephone getting authorization, with much longer waits in some cases. Nationwide, that figure translates into about 1 million hours of wasted psychiatrist time annually. (2013-04-23)

Study reveals austerity's harmful impact on health in Greece
In one of the most detailed studies of its kind, a team of Greek and US researchers have vividly chronicled the harmful public health impacts of the economic austerity measures imposed on Greece's population in the wake of the global economic crisis. Writing in the American Journal of Public Health, the researchers cite data showing the economic recession and subsequent austerity policies in Greece have led to a sharp deterioration of health services and health outcomes. (2013-04-18)

Patient satisfaction with hospital stay does not reflect quality of surgical care
Patient satisfaction is an important indicator of a hospital's service quality, but new Johns Hopkins research suggests that it doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of the surgical care patients receive. (2013-04-17)

Study examines relationship between occurrence of surgical complications and hospital finances
Findings of an analysis that included nearly 35,000 surgical discharges from a 12-hospital system suggest that the occurrence of postsurgical complications was associated with a higher per-encounter hospital contribution margin for patients covered by Medicare and private insurance but a lower one for patients covered by Medicaid and who self-paid, according to a study in the April 17 issue of JAMA. (2013-04-16)

Patients with surgical complications provide greater hospital profit-margins
Privately insured surgical patients with a complication provided hospitals with a 330 percent higher profit margin than those without a complication, report researchers from Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health system innovation at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston Consulting Group, Texas Health Resources, and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Medicare patients with a complication produced a 190 percent higher margin. For hospitals, reducing surgical complications may mean reduced financial performance. (2013-04-16)

Better coordination necessary to reduce hospital readmission rates
Achieving widespread reductions in preventable hospital readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries may take longer than many health care professionals originally anticipated, according to researchers at Penn State, the Weill Cornell Medical College and the University of Pennsylvania. (2013-04-16)

Mammogram tool improves some breast cancer detection but also increases false alarms
A costly and widely used mammography add-on increases detection of noninvasive and early-stage invasive breast cancer but also makes more mistakes than mammography alone, researchers from UC Davis and the University of Washington have found. (2013-04-15)

1 in 5 seniors on risky meds; more in US South
A study of more than six million seniors in Medicare Advantage plans in 2009 found that 21 percent received a prescription for at least one potentially harmful (2013-04-10)

Few to no work efficiencies when different providers read different scans on same patient
According to a new study published online in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, any efficiencies in physician interpretation and diagnosis gained when different providers interpret different medical imaging scans performed on the same patient are minute and vary by procedure. (2013-04-09)

Americans want, deserve excellent health care; Mayo Clinic CEO outlines how to create it
Americans want and deserve excellent health care -- whether they are visiting a primary care physician for a checkup, having surgery or need more complex care -- but many wonder how they and the nation will afford it. (2013-04-09)

Shingles vaccine is associated with reduction in both postherpetic neuralgia and herpes zoster
A vaccine to prevent shingles may reduce by half the occurrence of this painful skin and nerve infection in older people (aged over 65 years) and may also reduce the rate of a painful complication of shingles, post-herpetic neuralgia, but has a very low uptake (only 4 percent) in older adults in the United States, according to a study by UK and US researchers published in this week's PLOS Medicine. (2013-04-09)

Penn study finds virtual colonoscopy is used appropriately, may expand screening to more patients
In the first study to examine appropriate utilization of so-called virtual colonoscopy among asymptomatic Medicare beneficiaries from 2007 to 2008, a research team from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that computed tomography colonography was used appropriately and may have expanded colorectal cancer screening beyond the population screened with standard ( (2013-04-04)

Dementia costs top those for heart disease or cancer, study finds
The most-detailed examination of the costs of dementia in the United States finds the disease is more costly to the nation than either heart disease or cancer. The analysis suggests that the costs of dementia could more than double by 2040 if the rate of the disease remains constant as the nation's population continues to grow older. (2013-04-03)

Mortality rates have increased at hospitals in rural communities for certain conditions
In an analysis that included data on more than 10 million Medicare beneficiaries admitted to acute care hospitals with a heart attack, congestive heart failure, or pneumonia between 2002 and 2010, 30-day mortality rates for those admitted to critical access hospitals increased during this time period compared with patients admitted to other acute care hospitals, according to a study in the Apr. 3 issue of JAMA. (2013-04-02)

Hospitals measure up for Medicare reimbursement
For-profit hospitals are out-performing other hospitals when treating stroke, heart attack and pneumonia patients in emergency departments and, thus, will be more likely to receive bonuses under Medicare's new payment rules, according to a new Northwestern Medicine® study. (2013-04-01)

Hip replacement reduces heart failure, depression and diabetes risk
In addition to improving life quality and diminishing pain, total hip replacement is associated with reduced mortality, heart failure, depression and diabetes rates in Medicare patients with osteoarthritis, according to a new study presented today at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2013-03-22)

1 in 4 colonoscopies in Medicare patients found to be potentially inappropriate
A new study by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston published online today in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that one out of four colonoscopies paid for by Medicare is potentially inappropriate under current screening guidelines set forth by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. (2013-03-13)

ASU scholars advocate innovation in regulatory, payment pathways for personalized medicine
Two innovative programs designed to improve the availability of emerging medical technologies that can help patients receive more effective, efficient and personalized health care are advanced in a commentary written by a team of scientists and policy experts, including seven from Arizona State University, and published today in Science Translational Medicine. The article, (2013-03-13)

Medicare spending for advanced cancer not linked to survival differences
Substantial regional variation in Medicare spending for patients with advanced cancer is not linked to differences in survival, according to a study published March 12 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. (2013-03-12)

Recovery in motion
A new study has found a link between the activity levels of elderly people who have just been released from the hospital and the risk that they will require readmission within 30 days. (2013-03-12)

Digoxin reduces hospital admissions in older patients with chronic heart failure
Digoxin significantly reduces the likelihood of hospital admission due to all causes among ambulatory older patients with chronic heart failure and reduced ejection fraction, according to research presented today at the American College of Cardiology's 62nd Annual Scientific Session. (2013-03-11)

Study: 'Virtual' house calls comparable to in-person care for people with Parkinson's disease
A small study of 20 people with Parkinson's disease suggests that (2013-03-11)

Outdoor heat increases risk of emergency respiratory hospitalization in elderly
Outdoor heat is associated with a significantly increased risk of emergency hospitalization for respiratory disorders in the elderly, according to a large epidemiological study of more than 12.5 million Medicare beneficiaries. (2013-03-08)

National commission calls for phasing out of fee-for-service pay within 5 years
The National Commission on Physician Payment Reform issued a report today detailing a series of sweeping recommendations aimed at reining in health spending and improving quality of care by fundamentally changing the way doctors are paid. The Commission, chaired by former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation president Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., with former Senator Majority leader Bill Frist, M.D., as Honorary Chair, calls for eliminating stand-alone fee-for-service payment by the end of the decade. (2013-03-04)

Medicare patients who use hospice receive better care at a lower cost to the government
Medicare patients who enrolled in hospice received better care at a significantly lower cost to the government than those who did not use the Medicare hospice benefit. The data indicate that annual savings to Medicare could amount to $2.4 million to $6.4 million, if 1,000 additional Medicare beneficiaries chose to enroll in hospice 53-105 days before death, or 15-30 days prior to death. (2013-03-04)

'Where you're treated matters' in terms of cancer survival
A study of older patients with advanced head and neck cancers has found that where they were treated significantly influenced their survival. (2013-03-01)

Bariatric surgery complications rates following restricting coverage to higher-quality centers
In an analysis of data on patients who underwent bariatric surgery 2004-2009, there was no significant difference in the rates of complications and reoperation for Medicare patients before vs. after a 2006 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services policy that restricted coverage of bariatric surgery to centers of excellence, according to a study appearing in the Feb. 27 issue of JAMA. (2013-02-26)

Colonoscopy cost sharing eliminated for privately insured patients
This press release on an important clarification regarding preventive screening benefits under the Affordable Care Act is issued on behalf of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American College of Gastroenterology, American Gastroenterological Association, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and Fight Colorectal Cancer. (2013-02-25)

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