Head of Connecticut Health Exchange to Lead Healthcare.gov

By Jeff Cohen, WNPR, and Diane Webber, Kaiser Health News This story is part of a partnership that includes WNPR, NPR and Kaiser Health News. Kevin Counihan, the head of Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace, will be the new CEO of healthcare.gov, the website that 36 states use to sell insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the administration announced Tuesday. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell tapped Counihan to lead the site as part of a revamped …

Medicare Lifts Ban on Sex-Change Surgery

By Lisa Leff of The Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO — Medicare can no longer automatically deny coverage requests for sex-reassignment surgeries, a federal board ruled Friday in a groundbreaking decision that recognizes the procedures are medically necessary for people who don’t identify with their biological sex. Ruling in favor of a 74-year-old transgender Army veteran whose request to have Medicare pay for her genital reconstruction was denied two years ago, the agency’s Departmental Appeals Board said there was no justification …

Where to Report Scams (and Why It’s Important)

Silence is golden, at least for scammers. Say nothing and their bilking can continue until you and others are bled dry. Speak up and it can stop. Take, for example, another impressive yet little-publicized bust recently announced by the Federal Trade Commission. It ended a telemarketing scheme believed to have scammed more than $20 million from tens of thousands of older Americans. The agency alleges that for 31 months, a network of scammers in the U.S. and Canada cold-called retirement-age Americans …

Report Shows Rampant Patient Harm in Skilled Nursing Facilities

If ever there were a statistic to make your heart stop, this is it: 1 out of every 3 patients who went to skilled nursing facilities after a hospital stay was harmed by his or her treatment. A study released this week by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that this harm included infections and medication errors. The report looked at 653 Medicare patients from more than 600 skilled nursing facilities who had been …

Now You Have Direct Access to Your Lab Reports

By Ankita Rao, Kaiser Health News Calling your doctor to get lab results might be a thing of the past: a new federal rule will allow patients to have direct access to their completed laboratory reports. The regulation was announced Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services. It amends privacy rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) that required patients to get their lab results from …

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 …