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Is Readmissions Reduction Program Hurting Some Patients?

A new study suggests that the decline in avoidable hospital readmissions of Medicare patients driven by the federal program’s hospital readmissions reduction program may be harming cardiac patients. According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Cardiology, while the readmissions reduction program has reduced readmissions among heart failure patients from 20 percent before the program was launched to 18.4 percent, the mortality rate among the same patients rose from 7.2 percent to 8.6 percent – 5400 more deaths a year. To learn more about the study, its results, why experts believe this  may be happening, and information about [&hellip

Administration Moving Away From Value Pay?

First, new Medicare programs for lump-sums payments for cardiac care and joint replacements were scaled back. Then, additional doctors were exempted from a new payment system that would have paid them more for the results they produce than for the quantity of care they provide. Next, the Department of Health and Human Services presented a document outlining a new direction for its Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. And it announced that it was seeking input from doctors on payment policy. All suggest that if the Trump administration is not moving away for paying for quality rather than quantity it [&hellip

GAO Urges Medicare Action on Opioids

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is not doing enough to oversee the prescribing of opioids to Medicare beneficiaries. Or so concludes the U.S. Government Accountability Office. According to the GAO, CMS provides guidance to Medicare drug plans “…but does not analyze data specifically on opioids.”  Also, according to the GAO, …CMS does not identify providers who may be inappropriately prescribing large amounts of opioids separately from other drugs, and does not require plan sponsors to report actions they take when they identify such providers.  As a result, CMS is lacking information that it could use to assess how [&hellip

Hospitals Improving on Medicare Value-Based Measures

U.S. hospitals continue to improve their performance under Medicare’s value-based purchasing program. In FY 2018, 57 percent of hospitals will receive Medicare bonuses from the program, up from 55 percent in FY 2017.  Bonuses are generally small but for some hospitals will be more than three percent.  Roughly half of all hospitals will experience changes in their Medicare base rates.  The worst performers will see their payments decline 1.65 percent. In FY 2018, hospitals that succeed in the program will share $1.9 billion in bonus payments.  Funding for those payments in this budget-neutral program comes from CMS withholding two percent [&hellip

A Different Perspective on Telehealth

Residents of urban areas often have the same access-to-care problems as rural residents, although the latter receive far more attention. So concludes a new report published on the Health Affairs Blog. According to the analysis, urban and rural residents have similar access problems – and among urban residents, the problems in some instances are even greater.  One distinction: …while rural America has access problems because there are not enough doctors, urban America has access problems because there are not enough appointments. One potential solution to this problem, the report suggests, is focusing on access instead of geography and making telehealth [&hellip

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