Congressional Budget Experts Predict More Red Ink

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has just published its 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook, and this year’s set of predictions for the nation’s balance sheet is sure to push Washington’s heartburn rate up a few notches. Three quick takeaways from the CBO’s report: The percentage of federal debt held by the public is higher than at any point in modern U.S. history. Federal debt held by the public is likely to decline a little bit over the next few years, as …

For Many, New Health Law Will Offer a Bridge to Medicare

When the virtual doors to the new Health Insurance Marketplace open next month, Americans in the 50-through-64 “pre-Medicare” age bracket may be the ones rushing in first. A story in the New York Times points out that, with the opening of the marketplace on Oct. 1, the Affordable Care Act may provide many older Americans with “a bridge to Medicare.” The story goes on to say: “While older people could pay up to three times as much as younger people buying …

What Put the Brakes on Medicare Spending?

The Holy Grail in battles over the federal budget has been how to slow down the runaway train of health care spending. So it surely comes as good news that spending on traditional Medicare has slowed substantially, as a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study shows, and not just because of the broader economic slowdown. For 25 years, spending on traditional Medicare rose, on average, 8 percent a year. Then, from 2007 to 2012, the increase slowed to an average annual …

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 …

If You Have Medicare, No Need to Go to Insurance Marketplaces

By Susan Jaffe, Kaiser Health News. This story produced in collaboration with USA Today While the Obama administration is stepping up efforts encouraging uninsured Americans to enroll in health coverage from the new online insurance marketplaces, officials are planning a campaign to convince millions of seniors to please stay away – don’t call and don’t sign up. “We want to reassure Medicare beneficiaries that they are already covered, their benefits are not changing and the marketplace doesn’t require them to do …

Find Out Whether Your Hospital Has Too Many Readmissions

Is your hospital’s revolving door turning too quickly? Each year, more than a million Americans wind up back in the hospital within 30 days after leaving for reasons that could have been prevented. That includes one in five Medicare hospital patients. Medicare has begun penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates for patients being treated for heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia – new categories will be added in the future – and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) …