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 …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. The venerable teenager Archie Andrews of comic book fame will die a heroic death. (Learn more at AARP) 2. Exercise helps aging brains grow bigger. (Learn more at The Atlantic) 3. Former Taco Bell interns claim the $1 billion idea now marketed as the Doritos Locos Taco was theirs nearly 20 years ago, and they have pictures to prove it.  (Learn more at Huffington Post)   Good ideas can come from anyone. Taco Bell …

Medicare Patients Now Can Do a Check-Up on Doctors

In a major data release this morning, Medicare shared information on $77 billion in payments to more than 880,000 health care providers. Consumers for the first time can look up doctors, find out the number of procedures they have performed and how much Medicare paid. This is one piece of the puzzle for determining the overall value of care being delivered. The information, from 2012 Medicare Part B payments, already has generated some eye-popping articles, with reports of one Florida ophthalmologist receiving …

Medicare Database Reveals Top-Paid Doctors

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Serdar Tumgoren, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) – Medicare paid a tiny group of doctors $3 million or more apiece in 2012. One got nearly $21 million. Those are among the findings of an Associated Press analysis of physician data released Wednesday by the Obama administration, part of a move to open the books on health care financing. Topping Medicare’s list was Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, whose relationship with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), made headlines last year …

Same-Sex Couples Still Waiting for Equal Financial Treatment

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the law that prevented same-sex spouses from enjoying federal benefits was unconstitutional nearly a year ago, yet the financial repercussions for these couples are still being worked through. Federal agencies have been updating their regulations to comply, and some have moved faster than others. And even among agencies that have acted, how they handle same-sex marriage differs. The IRS, for instance, says same-sex spouses now must file federal returns as joint filers or as married …

To Strengthen Hearts, Medicare Changes Its Policy

After deliberating for a decade, Medicare recently announced that it will now cover cardiac rehab for some patients who suffer from stable but chronic heart failure, a costly, debilitating disease that could be improved with supervised exercise and counseling. Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s need for oxygen. Patients often suffer shortness of breath and swelling in their feet, ankles, legs and stomach from fluid buildup. Some 650,000 …