Medicare

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The public should expect to see significant evolutions in Medicare and Medicaid in coming years, a national health care expert told a Kansas City audience Friday.

Genevieve M. Kenney of the Urban Institute said an inevitable component of Medicare’s need to save money will be talk about raising the eligibility age. The current age of eligibility is 65, but life expectancy has increased since enactment of the program 50 years ago.

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Hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in Kansas are part of an ongoing national conflict over “observational stays” that can leave the facilities and Medicare patients on the hook for uncovered rehabilitation costs after they leave the hospital.

The conflict revolves around Medicare’s “three-day rule,” which requires a person to be admitted to the hospital on an inpatient basis for at least three days in order to qualify for inpatient rehabilitation at a skilled nursing facility, covered by Medicare, after they’re discharged.

A once-obscure effort by a group of states to get out from under federal health care regulations has become an issue in the final days of the Kansas governor’s race.

Kaiser Health News

 

Twenty hospitals in the Kansas City area will be penalized by Medicare starting Oct. 1 for excessive readmissions, although eight of them will be hit with lower fines than in Medicare’s previous round of penalties.

Saint Luke’s East Hospital in Lee’s Summit will get hit with the biggest fine, 2.08 percent of its Medicare reimbursements, according to an analysis by Kaiser Health News of data released this week by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Andy Marso / KHI News

Legislators who passed a health care compact in Kansas said changes to Medicare were not the impetus, but a “Medicare coach” told a Johnson County crowd Tuesday night that the originator of the multi-state compact favors Medicare privatization.

A total of 23 Johnson County legislators — all Republicans — signed onto an op-ed in the October edition of The Best Times, a magazine for seniors in the county, that praises the health care compact bill.

The rebuttal comes after a weeks-long disagreement between legislators who supported the compact and members of the Johnson County Commission on Aging, who wrote an article that appears on the previous page criticizing the compact for its potential effects on Medicare.

A health care compact bill designed to get Kansas and other states out of federal health regulations is gaining attention locally for its possible Medicare implications, but a national expert on Medicare says the compact, which would need congressional approval, is not even being discussed in Washington, D.C.

Tension built Monday as legislators who supported a health care compact bill that would free Kansas from federal health care regulations made a last ditch-effort to pressure a Johnson County advisory board not to publish an article critical of the compact in a county newsletter.

File photo

 

A newsletter for Johnson County seniors has become a source of consternation to some legislators, who say an upcoming article critical of the health care compact passed this year unfairly portrays the legislation as a threat to Medicare.

Todd Feeback / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

Spritzing perfume is how Judy Johnson realized her eyesight had gone bad.

At one point, diabetes had worsened her vision so much that the 69-year-old Lansing, Kan., resident had to squirt out a puff of her favorite scent just to find the opening in the mister.

“I looked at it this morning,” Johnson said Wednesday, “and I could see the hole.”

Alex Smith / KCUR

The older you get, the more complicated and expensive health care becomes. A study from the National Institutes of Health shows that half the money that’s spent on Americans’ health is spent on care after age 65.

That’s why changes to the health system – like the Affordable Care Act and Medicare reform — can be especially concerning to older people.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Changes to insurance have been getting all the headlines, but the Affordable Care Act aims to change the way doctors operate as well.

The federal law offers incentives for health providers to work together to keep Medicare patients healthy in hopes of saving money. Whether this approach can actually create savings is still unclear, and many doctors remain skeptical. But in Kansas City, a few doctors are teaming up.

The open enrollment period for Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans got underway Monday.  The Kansas Insurance Department says people need to be alert for potential scams.

The concern is heightened this year because the Medicare signup period coincides with the opening of the insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

The annual enrollment period for Medicare's prescription drug coverage and privatized Medicare Advantage plans is now open. It's the one time of year when people can make changes to their coverage without being penalized.

This year, many senior citizens have been confused. The enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act started just two weeks ago. Many people are under the mistaken impression that they need to sign up for coverage on the exchange, even though they have Medicare. 

A new study from a non-profit research group says predictions of huge premium increases when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect in January are unfounded. 

Kansas is one of 10 states the Rand Corporation studied in detail. The study predicts that by 2016, only 6.6 percent of Kansans too young for Medicare will be uninsured. Without the new law, that figure would be more than 14 percent. 

cogdogblog / Flickr--Creative Commons

Medicare patients who have diabetic testing supplies delivered to them experienced some changes this week.

It’s all part of an effort by the Medicare program to save money and cut down on fraud. But some people are worried about unintended consequences.

A public services announcement issued by Medicare attempts to lay out the changes for diabetic Medicare recipients:

The Medicare Summary Notice senior citizens receive every month has been redesigned. The changes are meant to make it easier to spot fraudulent claims.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the federal government has devoted new resources to rooting out fraud, waste, and abuse in the Medicare program. The notice beneficiaries receive each month to explain their claims is being upgraded to make it easier to spot claims for services they never received.

A competitive bidding program aimed at helping Medicare avoid overpaying for products like scooters, diabetic testing supplies, and oxygen tanks is being expanded to 91 communities nationwide, including Wichita. 

The program began a little more than two years ago as a demonstration project in nine communities, including Kansas City. 

Top Of The Morning News: December 24, 2012

Dec 24, 2012
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Gun shows, Missouri Medicaid expansion & more: Your morning news from KCUR.

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Kansas City will soon know more about the quality of primary care in the region.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

Starting October 1, hospitals that fail to meet certain quality measures will get less funding from Medicare.

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State officials are warning Kansas senior citizens not to fall for a telephone scam aimed at Medicare beneficiaries. 

A growing number of health experts are warning of potential collateral damage if the Supreme Court strikes down the entire 2010 Affordable Care Act: potential chaos in the Medicare program.

Medicare patients who reach the annual gap in coverage for prescription drugs known as the "doughnut hole" are 57 percent more likely than those with continuous insurance coverage to stop taking drugs for heart-related conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease.

Medicare coverage for people with depression used to be, well, depressing. But that's starting to change.

In October, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began covering screening for depression without any cost-sharing when Medicare beneficiaries visit their primary care doctor.

Obama in Osawatomie; Riding with Teddy Roosevelt

The president is coming to Osawatomie, Ks. because of a speech given there more than 100 years ago. Teddy Roosevelt delivered a speech in 1910 that called for a "New Nationalism", and defended the government's role in regulating the economy, defending human welfare and property rights. Whitehouse deputy press secretary Josh Earnest says Obama will channel Roosevelt.  Frank Morris has more of the story.

People typically have until the end of this month to enroll in or make changes to their Medicare plans. But this year's deadline is in two days.

"Midnight, December 7th," says Carol Behan, director of CLAIM, Missouri's free Medicare counseling program.

Behan says people often don't take advantage of this enrollment period for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. People may not have to change anything, she says, but they might save money if they compare their premiums and deductibles of the different plans.

Kansas City, MO – Major problems exist when it comes to health in the U.S...whether it be fragmented care or preventable diseases. That's according to Dr. Donald Berwick, head of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Dr. Berwick shared these concerns with area health leaders on a stop in Kansas City yesterday. But as KCUR's Elana Gordon reports, Dr. Berwick said major improvements are also possible right now.

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Jefferson City, MO – Elderly Missourians who qualify for $250 rebate checks from Medicare are being warned to watch out for scam artists.

The checks that are being mailed out are legitimate, but seniors who receive them may be targeted by con artists. State Attorney General Chris Koster says recipients should not give out their personal information to anyone calling to ask for it.