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Congress Moves to Overhaul Medicare Doctor Payments

Posted on 02/6/2014 by | Health | Comments

Bulletin Today | Personal HealthBy Mary Agnes Carey, Kaiser Health News Staff Writer The bipartisan leadership of three Senate and House committees introduced legislation Feb. 6 to overhaul the way Medicare pays physicians. The package, which does not specify how it would be paid for, would repeal the current system, which sets Medicare physician payment rates through a 1997 formula based on economic growth and known as the “sustainable growth rate” (SGR).  Physicians would receive a 0.5 percent increase for each of the next five years …

6 Things to Watch in Congress

Posted on 01/8/2014 by | Washington Watch | Comments

Bulletin Today | PoliticsMembers of Congress are back in Washington with an agenda full of items important to older Americans. Here’s a rundown: Debt ceiling and federal budget. Two deadlines loom here. The federal government will run out of borrowing authority if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling by Feb. 7. Although Capitol Hill lawmakers negotiated a budget deal in December that set overall spending, they must pass a bill with more specifics by Jan. 15. Each time budget deadlines hit, some lawmakers …

Budget Deficit Talks Finally Exclude Benefit Programs

Posted on 12/26/2013 by | AARP Media Relations Team | Comments

PoliticsLast week as the Senate worked to pass a bipartisan budget framework that doesn’t cut Social Security or Medicare benefits, a hearing without the same fanfare took place just steps away. In a high-ceiling, wood-paneled committee room, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) chaired a hearing that might prove the more historical moment of the week. With plenty of empty chairs and a parade of bipartisan senators throughout the two hours the hearing lasted, an expert, ideologically-diverse panel that included AARP President Rob Romasco, spoke without even …

Medicare Lists Best, Worst Hospitals for Hip and Knee Replacements

Posted on 12/17/2013 by | Health | Comments

Bulletin Today | Personal HealthBy Jordan Rau, Senior Correspondent, Kaiser Health News Medicare has begun tracking the outcomes of hip and knee replacement surgeries, identifying 95 hospitals where elderly patients were more likely to suffer significant setbacks. The government also named 97 hospitals where patients tended to have the smoothest recoveries. The analysis, which was released last week, is the latest part of the government’s push to improve quality at the nation’s hospitals instead of simply paying Medicare patients’ bills. Medicare already assesses hospital …

Why Doctors Might Stick with Medicare

Posted on 12/13/2013 by | Washington Watch | Comments

Bulletin Today | PoliticsCapitol Hill lawmakers are showing signs that they could finally revamp how Medicare pays doctors. For the short term, the budget deal approved in the House on Dec. 12 delays for three months a cut of 24 percent in physicians’ reimbursements slated to begin Jan. 1. For the long term, after years of last-minute scrambling to stave off the payment cuts, several key Senate and House committees have approved legislation to repeal the formula that Medicare uses to pay physicians, …

One Way Medicare Could Save Big

Posted on 12/11/2013 by | Washington Watch | Comments

Bulletin Today | PoliticsMedicare could save $560 million or more a year simply by allowing some patients who call 911 for an ambulance to be taken somewhere other than a hospital emergency room. What’s more, the study found, private insurers could save twice that amount by following suit. That’s the conclusion of a new study in Health Affairs, which found that more than a third of Medicare patients who called 911 had a “low-acuity diagnosis” that could have been managed outside the hospital emergency …