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  • Tom Boyd


Health Reform Is Hotly Debated, but Fraud and Abuse Brings Both Parties Together (excerpt)

AIS’s Health Business Daily, April 29, 2011

Even if parts of the health reform law were to somehow be changed, don’t expect any weakening of its program-integrity provisions.  There is bipartisan support for fraud-and-abuse measures in Congress, according to Kim Brandt, chief health care investigative counsel for the Senate Finance Committee’s Republican staff and former CMS Medicare program integrity chief …  

Medicare To Begin Basing Hospital Payments On Patient-Satisfaction Scores

Kaiser Health News, April 29, 2011

Kaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is finalizing details for the new reimbursement method, required by last year’s health care law.  Consumer advocates say tying patient opinions to payments will result in better care.  But many hospital officials are wary, arguing the scores don’t necessarily reflect the quality of the care and are influenced by factors beyond their control” (Rau, 4/29).  Read the story and the state-by-state rankings of hospital experiences.

Study sees increase in hospice care, but communication issues remain (excerpt)

Healthcare Finance News, April 27, 2011

The use of palliative and hospice care has increased nationwide, according to a report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project, but there is still a disconnect between what patients want for end-of-life care and what kind of care they get.

In addition, the lead author of the report says the healthcare system as a whole – and doctors in particular – must find better ways of communicating with patients about end-of-life care.

“In addition to its effects on patients’ quality of life, unnecessarily aggressive care carries a high financial cost,” said David Goodman, MD, in a statement introducing the study.  “About one-fourth of all Medicare spending goes to pay for the care of patients in their last year of life, and much of the growth in Medicare spending is the result of the high cost of treating chronic disease.  It may be possible to reduce spending, while also improving the quality of care, by ensuring that patient preferences are more closely followed.”

The report, “Trends and Variations in End-of-Life Care for Medicare Beneficiaries with Severe Chronic Illness,” found that while Medicare beneficiaries with severe chronic illness spent fewer days in the hospital at the end of life in 2007 than they did in 2003, they saw more doctors and specialists and spend more time in intensive care units. 

Americans are clueless about retirement healthcare costs

Healthcare Finance News (excerpt), May 5, 2011

Nine in 10 American workers either have no idea what their healthcare costs are likely to be in retirement or underestimate those costs, says a new consumer survey from Sun Life Financial.

In addition, 40 percent of those polled claim to have “no idea” what their retirement healthcare costs would reach, and only 8 percent estimate their costs will reach $200,000 or more.

According to a 2010 report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, an average 65-year-old couple free of chronic disease can expect to spend $260,000 on remaining lifetime healthcare costs (including nursing home care).  In addition, there is a 5 percent chance that those same costs could exceed $570,000.

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