Medicare

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Taxpayer Dollars Funding Drugs for Dead People

Medicare payments allowed up to 32 days after patients' deaths: report

(Newser) - Dead men don't wear plaid—and they don't pick up prescription drugs at the pharmacy. Yet Medicare has been paying for medicine for the deceased for up to 32 days after their deaths, the AP reports. A report out today from the Health and Human Services Department's... More »

Medicare Fund to Last Longer Than Previously Thought

Medicare gets a 4-year boost—but disability benefits are disappearing more quickly

(Newser) - If you’ve been nervously eyeing your Social Security and Medicare updates, wondering if there will be anything left or whether a viable health program will exist by the time you punch your final timecard, Uncle Sam has (some) good news: Benefits funds for Medicare are expected to last for... More »

Number of Seniors on Pain Pills Surges, Alarmingly

'USA Today' analysis reveals jump over 5 years

(Newser) - More seniors are getting powerful pain meds for longer periods through Medicare, USA Today reports—and the increases are drastic. One in five seniors now gets prescribed pain drugs like Vicodin and Percocet. The number getting opioid pain medication prescriptions jumped 30% between 2007 and 2012, passing 8.5 million... More »

Odd Treatments Bring a Few Doctors Medicare Millions

Surgeon billed for $3.7M—without doing surgery, WSJ finds

(Newser) - A rare heart treatment involving strapping patients to a bed using large cuffs that promote blood flow is rarely used by America's cardiologists; the Cleveland Clinic's 141 cardiologists used it on just six patients last year. But one LA internist used it on nearly all his 615 Medicare... More »

Medicare Ruling Big Win for Transgender Rights

No longer can program automatically deny requests to cover surgery

(Newser) - Medicare can no longer automatically deny coverage requests for sex reassignment surgeries, a federal board ruled today in a groundbreaking decision that recognizes the procedures are medically necessary for people who don't identify with their biological sex. Ruling in favor of 74-year-old transgender Army veteran Denee Mallon of Albuquerque,... More »

Medicare Paid Doctor $21M in Single Year

He's one of 344 who received at least $3M in 2012

(Newser) - Medicare's books have been opened up after an extended legal battle, and perhaps the most startling detail is that a single doctor was reimbursed nearly $21 million in 2012 alone. Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen was one of 344 physicians who raked in more than $3 million from Medicare that... More »

The Government Is Growing, Dying at the Same Time

Robert Samuelson argues that the Democrats are paradoxically the ones shrinking it

(Newser) - As the American people age, a pernicious paradox has taken hold of the federal budget: "We are slowly dismantling the federal government, even as its spending is growing larger," observes Robert Samuelson at the Washington Post . With every budget, lawmakers are slashing into discretionary spending, but with Social... More »

Government Spent $172M on Penis Pumps

At double the retail price per pump

(Newser) - Between 2006 and 2011, Medicare spent $172 million on penis pumps, according to a report out Monday by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services. That figure is outrageous for a reason other than that you might think. As NBC News reports, penis pumps, more properly... More »

Not Dying? Hospice Wants You Anyway

Recruiting healthier patients for profit, 'Washington Post' reveals

(Newser) - Hospice care is for the terminally ill, yet the number of "hospice survivors" jumped 50% in California between 2002 and 2012. Something to celebrate? Not quite: A Washington Post investigation into the $17 billion industry now dominated by for-profits reveals hospice companies recruit patients who aren't dying because... More »

Brand-Name Drugs Cost Medicare Billions

Doctors with ties to industry go with pricey versions instead of generics

(Newser) - So much money wasted, such a seemingly simple fix. A ProPublica investigation finds that a relatively small group of doctors costs taxpayers hundreds of millions dollars per year because they choose to prescribe pricey brand-name drugs to low-income Medicare patients instead of generic versions. Is it because they have hearts... More »

Finally, Washington Sees a Way Out

Obama, House GOP leaders to meet today

(Newser) - Signs of hope in DC: Both parties are increasingly pushing for an end to the government shutdown and a debt-ceiling increase, with President Obama set to meet with 18 top House Republicans today, the Hill reports. Those Republicans include Paul Ryan, who's at the forefront of a short-term plan... More »

Medicare Has Been Paying for Prescriptions Written by ... Art Therapists

Paid $31.6M in 2009 for prescriptions written by people who aren't authorized to write them

(Newser) - Massage therapists and home contractors are not authorized to prescribe drugs—but Medicare will still cover the cost, anyway. That's according to a new study by the Department of Health and Human Services, which found Medicare paid $31.6 million in 2009 as part of its Part D program... More »

Growing Medicare Expense ... Eyelid Lifts?

Critics say doctors, patients gaming the system

(Newser) - Medicare is never, ever supposed to pay for cosmetic surgery, but the Miami Herald has dug up numbers on eyelid lifts that look mighty suspicious. Medicare will pay for the procedure—booming in popularity among aging Americans looking for less droopy eyes—but only if a doctor deems it medically... More »

Medicare Fund Gets Less Dire Diagnosis

Trustees say it can keep paying benefits until 2026

(Newser) - Not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary story: Medicare is doing better financially than anyone thought. The main trust fund that funds the healthcare program has announced that it expects to be able to pay full benefits through 2026, two years longer than previously believed, the Wall Street ... More »

It's Official: Hospital Bills Make No Sense

$5K for a procedure in one hospital costs $223K in another

(Newser) - The charges on US hospital bills often seem entirely random and inconsistent, and now we know why: they probably are. The government has released data today on what 3,300 different hospitals charge for the 100 most common procedures. The results show massive variation, reports the Washington Post . One DC... More »

GOP Leaders Like Obama's Social Security Cuts

Hearings to begin in House subcommittees this week

(Newser) - Democrats aren't happy with the part of President Obama's budget proposal that involves cutting Social Security benefits , but Republican leaders just love it, the Washington Post reports. John Boehner is trying to muffle any GOP criticism of the budget proposal, which is mainly coming from Republican lawmakers... More »

Obama Budget to Offer GOP a Spoonful of Sugar

Medicare, Social Security cuts 'demonstrate willingness to compromise': NYT

(Newser) - Obama's personal salary isn't the only figure the president plans on cutting this year. A new budget set to be released next week proposes cuts to Medicare and Social Security. It's a deficit-reducing olive branch to the GOP, and the administration says it will lead to... More »

Obama: Gay Marriage Bans 'Probably' Unconstitutional

President says debt sustainable for next 10 years

(Newser) - It looks like President Obama's views on gay marriage are continuing to " evolve ." When he first expressed his support for gay marriage last May, Obama also said he thought it was a state issue (a position he's since reaffirmed ). Now, however, the president is saying... More »

Simpson, Bowles Back With Sequel to Deficit Plan

They want to slash another $2.4T, far exceeding Obama's goals

(Newser) - If you liked the first Simpson-Bowles plan, good news! Washington's favorite bipartisan hypothetical budget slashers have come up with a sequel of sorts, proposing $2.4 trillion in new (and probably politically impossible) deficit cuts over the next decade, Politico reports. How would they get there?
  • They'd slash
... More »

Anti-Fraud Record: Per Dollar Spent, $8 Recovered

HSS boasts recovering $4.2B last year in health-care fraud effort

(Newser) - And the health-care fraud records just keep coming : The government last year recovered a record $4.2 billion that was stolen or illegally obtained from federal health-care programs, reports USA Today . That brings the since-2010 equation to this: $7.90 has been recouped via fines and legal judgments for each... More »

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