“Hospitals Stopped Readmitting So Many Medicare Patients. Did That Cost Lives?” – The New York Times
“A new government program was supposed to prevent certain Medicare recipients from cycling in and out of hospitals. Now experts worry some older patients are being denied necessary care.”
Credit: Craig Frazier
by Paula Spahn
“It was a well-intended policy. Almost all parties agree on that much.
“A decade ago, when Medicare beneficiaries were discharged from hospitals, one in five returned within a month.
“Older people faced the risks of hospitalization all over again: infections, deconditioning, delirium, subsequent nursing home stays. And preventable readmissions were costing Medicare a bundle.
“So the Affordable Care Act incorporated something called the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which focused on three serious ailments with high readmission rates: heart failure, heart attacks and pneumonia.
“The A.C.A. penalized hospitals — withholding up to three percent of Medicare payments — when readmissions within 30 days exceeded national averages.”
Read this New York Times article in its entirety, click here.
M. SPENCER GREEN/AP
by Karen Weintraub
“Nearly 30 years after it began, a study of prostate cancer patients shows both that the disease will not cause harm to the majority of men who have it, and that aggressive treatment is warranted for men with an intermediate risk of spread.
“The nuanced results come from a new update to a landmark study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, that has followed 695 Swedish men since they were diagnosed with localized prostate cancer between October 1989 and February 1999.
“The study’s duration and insights into one of the most common forms of cancer make it ‘arguably one of the most important publications of the year,’ said Dr. Adam Kibel, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and chief of urology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who is not involved in the research.”
“The Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare Parts C & D is over, but persons with Medicare Advantage soon get another chance to switch coverage. Learn about the new MA Open Enrollment Period in this fact sheet developed by the Medicare Rights Center.” (SOURCE: National Council on Aging email)
“Beginning in 2019, there will be a Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA
OEP) from January 1 through March 31 each year. During this time, MA-eligible
beneficiaries will be able to change their MA Plan or elect Original Medicare and
coverage under Part D. Changes are effective the first of the following month.” Read more here.
“A shot-in-the-dark email leads to a century-old family treasure — and hope of cracking a deadly flu’s secret” – STATnews
IBRARY OF CONGRESS VIA AP
by Helen Branswell
“Late one night Michael Worobey began poking around on the internet, looking for descendants of a World War I British military doctor named William Rolland.
“Rolland, a pathologist, had written a report in 1917, the year before the start of the Spanish flu. It described cases of British soldiers in France who had contracted an unusually fatal respiratory illness. Worobey, an evolutionary biology professor with a particular interest in the 1918 pandemic, wanted to know whether any of Rolland’s samples might still be lying about a century later.
“Within a few hours, he had found a possible contact and fired off an email. Across the Atlantic, 5,000 miles away, a retired family physician in England’s picturesque Lake District received it. He replied immediately.
“When Worobey read it, he was thunderstruck. “I almost fell out of my chair, for real,” he recalled. ‘I actually did cry real tears.’”
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is an annual period of time (October 15 through December 7) when current Medicare users can choose to re-evaluate part of their Medicare coverage (their Medicare Advantage and/or Part D plan) and compare it against all the other plans on the market. After re-evaluating, if you find a plan that is a better fit for your needs, you can then switch to, drop or add a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan. Medicare Advantage is also known as a “Part C” plan.
Get more information, click here.
SOURCE: National Council on Aging
Medicare’s new program will alter a year’s worth of payments to 14,959 skilled nursing facilities across the U.S., based on how often in the past fiscal year their residents ended up back in hospitals within 30 days of leaving. – BSIP/Getty Images
by Jordan Rau
“The federal government took a new step this week to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions of nursing home patients. The move targets the homes’ bottom lines by lowering a year’s worth of payments to nearly 11,000 nursing homes, and giving bonuses to nearly 4,000 others.
“These financial incentives, determined by each home’s readmission rates, significantly expand Medicare’s effort to pay medical providers based on the quality of care instead of just the number or condition of their patients.
“Until now, Medicare mostly limited these kinds of incentives to hospitals, which have gotten used to facing financial repercussions if too many of their patients are readmitted, suffer infections or other injuries, or die.”
Click here to read this article in its entirety at NPR.
To compare nursing homes in your area, click here. Nursing Home Compare has detailed information about every Medicare — Opens in a new window and Medicaid — Opens in a new window -certified nursing home in the country. A nursing home is a place for people who can’t be cared for at home and need 24-hour nursing care.
Though this article comes from the Australian version of The Conversation, “Everyone has their own idea of what quality of care and quality of life in residential aged care may look like. The Conversation asked readers how they would want a loved one to be cared for in a residential aged care facility. What they said was similar to what surveys around the world have consistently found.“
NeedyMeds is a national non-profit organization that maintains a website of free information on programs that help people who can’t afford medications and healthcare costs.
Check out this resource to find help with the cost of medicine: https://www.needymeds.org
“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the 2019 premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts for Medicare Parts A and B.
“’CMS is committed to empowering beneficiaries with the information they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare,’ said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. ‘In addition to the information we recently released for Medicare Advantage, the program through which private plans provide Medicare benefits, today we are releasing information for fee-for-service Medicare, so enrollees understand their options for receiving Medicare benefits.’
As announced earlier this month, CMS launched the eMedicare Initiative that aims to modernize the way beneficiaries get information about Medicare and create new ways to help them make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Ahead of Medicare Open Enrollment – which begins on October 15, 2018 and ends December 7, 2018 – CMS is making improvements the Medicare.gov website to help beneficiaries compare options and decide if Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage is right for them. Among the tools released as part of the eMedicare Initiative is a stand-alone, mobile optimized out of pocket cost calculator that will provide information on both overall costs and prescription drug costs.