More Doctors Accepting New Medicare Patients

It’s getting easier – not more difficult – to find doctors who take Medicare, according to a new study by the Department of Health and Human Services. Doctors have long complained about Medicare’s payment caps and the instability of a reimbursement system that forces cuts each year unless Congress intervenes to prevent them. Nonetheless, the HHS study says that the number of physicians accepting new Medicare patients is actually higher than the number taking new private insurance patients, according to …

How a Secretive Panel of Doctors Helps Set Health Care Costs

A Washington Post story by investigative reporters Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating has drawn plenty of attention to a little-known committee of doctors that establishes values for each medical procedure, which in turn affects how much Medicare and private insurers pay for them. The American Medical Association committee meets once a year behind closed doors to determine the time and intensity of most of the procedures and services a doctor performs – like colonoscopies (75 minutes of a doctor’s time, …

Should Doctors Ask If You Own a Gun?

No one questions when a doctor asks if an older, cognitively impaired patient is still driving, and urges family members to take away the car keys for the safety of the patient and everyone else. So why is it any different for a doctor to ask if a patient with similar problems has guns at home that could endanger him or others? There is no difference — it’s simply the doctor’s role in contributing to patient and public safety, argues …

Is Your Doctor a 10? Medicare Site Takes Next Step Toward Ranking Providers

By Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News Medicare Thursday added new features to its Physician Compare website as it prepares to start including quality data on thousands of doctors. The federal health care law requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to publish performance data on doctors, including how patients rate them, how well the physicians’ medical interventions succeed and how well they follow clinical guidelines for basic care. The site has been up since 2010, but contained only basic …

Doctors Oppose Expanded Role for Nurse Practitioners

By Alvin Tran As nurse practitioners lobby to expand their authority and scope of practice in many states, a New England Journal of Medicine study released Wednesday documents a deep chasm between how doctors and nurses regard the issue. The study found the two groups overwhelmingly agreed that nurse practitioners should be able to practice to the full extent of their schooling and training. But doctors were less likely to concur that advanced practice nurses should lead medical homes, which deliver team-based, coordinated care to patients. Only 17 percent …

These Doctors Are Transforming Medicine. Is Yours Keeping Up?

By Ankita Rao, Kaiser Health News Dr. Thomas Bellavia transformed his traditional medical practice in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., into a so-called medical home where patients are seen by teams of doctors and nurses.  He says it has paid off in better, more coordinated care for his patients and healthier income for the nurse practitioners and physicians in his group. Dr. Mark Holthouse took a different tack – limiting his El Dorado, Calif., clinic to 400 patients a year, and adding services such as …