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 …

Medicare Accepting Applications From Same-Sex Spouses

Spouses in same-sex marriages can now apply for Medicare benefits. The Social Security Administration, which is in charge of determining eligibility for Medicare, has begun working on requests for Part A and Part B coverage by spouses in same-sex marriages as well as requests for special enrollment and reductions in late-enrollment penalties. The Supreme Court’s ruling last year in United States v. Windsor invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, which had prevented Medicare from allowing benefits for same-sex couples. >> Sign …

House GOP Plan Seeks Health Cuts to Balance Budget

By Andrew Taylor, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) – House Republicans are pressing ahead with a slashing plan to try to balance the budget within 10 years, relying on big decreases in health care programs for the middle class and the poor, as well as tax increases and Medicare cuts engineered by President Obama. The GOP fiscal plan by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promises $5.1 trillion in spending cuts – and unorthodox accounting incorporating the pro-growth effects of …

Obama Budget Proposal Targets Medicare Savings

As expected, President Obama’s budget proposal abandoned a call to change the way annual increases in Social Security benefits are calculated and continued a call for Medicare savings. Announced March 4, his plan, which goes next to Congress, would hit some Medicare providers, drug companies and higher-income Medicare beneficiaries as part of $402 billion in estimated health care savings over the next decade. Among the proposed changes for beneficiaries: Charge higher premiums for Parts B and D for higher-income people …