Groundhog Day for Medicare ‘Doc Fix’

Another year, another last-minute “doc fix” by Congress. Am I the only one starting to feel a little like Bill Murray in the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day? On March 31, just one day before Medicare payments to doctors would have been slashed by 24 percent, Congress approved a short-term patch to delay the payment cuts for another year. This is the 17th time in 11 years that Congress has had to delay the Medicare reimbursement cuts created by SGR (the …

How to Keep Track of What Your Doctor Says: Bring Along a Note Taker

By Susan Jaffe, Kaiser Health News. Story produced in collaboration with USA Today It used to be difficult for Edith Couturier, an 85-year-old resident of the District of Columbia, to explain to her adult children on the West Coast all the details of her medical appointments. But now she doesn’t go alone – she takes along a volunteer “medical note-taker.” “There are four ears listening to what the doctor says,” Couturier says. That second set of ears belongs to Sharon Wolozin, …

New Study Looks at Caregiving and Twins

Does caregiving cause stress? Most research shows that it does – in spades.  But a small study on a limited sample suggests how family caregivers handle distress is influenced more by their genes and family history than by the difficulty of the caregiving role. Those are the findings of Peter Vitaliano, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Washington, and his colleagues after studying more than a thousand female twins, some of whom were caregivers. According to Vitaliano, how your parents …

Cost Barriers Persist for Colonoscopy Screening In Medicare

Thousands of people in the United States die every year from colorectal cancer-cancer of the colon or rectum. That’s astonishing because colorectal cancer is almost entirely preventable by use of recommended screening tests. Yet, in 2008, less than two-thirds of all people ages 65 and older had the screening. Medicare pays for several types of screening tests, including colonoscopy which is considered the best test for early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy allows for removal of polyps and …

Improving the Odds for 9 Million Uninsured Adults Ages 50-64

Amid all the criticism of healthcare.gov and Obamacare these days, it’s easy to forget that a key goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to help people get coverage. For people who are uninsured or underinsured, a major accident or illness is more than a health crisis; it’s a potential financial disaster. In 2012, 9 million people ages 50 through 64 were uninsured. For these individuals, the Affordable Care Act offers new opportunities for coverage and will help some …

Older Unemployed Face a Tough Road

What’s the prognosis for the older long-term unemployed? Grim. That’s the takeaway from “Set for Life,” a new American Public Television documentary underwritten by the AARP Foundation. The hour-long program tracks several primary breadwinners who have lost their jobs, the effect that has on their families and their efforts to land a new one. The program catalogs the dismantling of the American Dream – an informal compact that assured workers of relative job stability, health care, and the opportunity to …