Advance Care Planning Gets a Boost

In response to an earlier request from AARP and other groups, we are pleased that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recommended in its recent proposed update to the Medicare physician fee schedule that Medicare be able to pay for advance care planning (ACP) services from physicians and other providers. The proposal will help facilitate voluntary conversations among individuals, their families and health care providers to help ensure individuals’ choices and wishes about their care are known, …

AARP Applauds Fix for Medicare Payments to Doctors

After 17 years of kicking the proverbial can down the road, Congress has come together in bipartisan fashion to repeal and replace Medicare’s flawed formula for reimbursing doctors with an improved payment plan. With President Obama’s April 21 signature of the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), Medicare beneficiaries can finally feel more secure in knowing that they can keep seeing their physicians each year. AARP has advocated for a permanent fix of the old doctor payment formula, called the …

Medicare Overpays $6.7 Billion for Patient Evaluation Services

Medicare spent $6.7 billion too much in 2010 by “inappropriately” paying claims from physicians who had submitted the wrong billing codes or no documentation at all for certain services, according to a new report from the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Although that amount was a small fraction of Medicare’s total spending of more than $525 billion in 2010, it still added up to 21 percent of what Medicare paid for all “evaluation …

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 …

Looking for a Medicare Doctor? New Ratings Can Help

Medicare patients have new help in picking a doctor, the federal government recently announced. Quality ratings for medical practices have been added to Medicare’s Physician Compare website, a national list of physicians and other health care providers who accept Medicare. “Patients and their families need facts to help them in making important decisions about health care, and choosing the right physician is one of the most important decisions they face,” says Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare …

The Maverick Doctor Who Helped to Invent Family Medicine

In the late 1950s, a young physician named Gene Farley was working as a small-town doctor in rural New York state when he came to the realization that what he had learned in medical school was all wrong. >> Sign up for the AARP Leisure Newsletter Farley, who died on Nov. 8 at age 86 in Wisconsin, explained in a 1992 oral history interview that his change in thinking came about as he was treating two teenage boys from different families …