Medicare Lists Best, Worst Hospitals for Hip and Knee Replacements

By 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 …

Congress Moves to Overhaul How Medicare Pays Doctors

Capitol 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, …

Medicare Could Save Big by Steering Ambulances Away From Hospitals

Medicare 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 …

Will Court Block Insurers from Dropping Doctors?

By Susan Jaffe, Kaiser Health News In a decision that could have national implications, a federal judge in Connecticut temporarily blocked UnitedHealthcare late Thursday from dropping an estimated 2,200 physicians from its Medicare Advantage plan in that state. While the judge’s decision affects only the physicians in Fairfield and Hartford Counties who brought suit, several other medical groups are considering filing similar actions. “This is very good news from Connecticut,” said Dr. Sam L. Unterricht, president of the Medical Society …

Is Your Hospital in Medicare’s Penalty Box?

Is your hospital being penalized for providing care that falls short of what Medicare thinks it should be? Measures range from nighttime noise to following basic clinical standards of care. If so, your hospital isn’t alone. Some 1,451 hospitals nationwide are being paid a little bit less for each patient they treat in the second year of Medicare’s “quality incentive” program, compared with 1,231 hospitals that will be paid more, according to Kaiser Health News. Here are the hospitals at …

Medicare Premiums Stay Level

Medicare premiums will stay at their current levels next year. While the Affordable Care Act has made sweeping changes in the nation’s health care system, the monthly premium for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor visits and most types of outpatient services, will stay at $104.90 in 2014, with the deductible also unchanged, at $147. >> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter. Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), called that “good news …