The Senate unanimously approved legislation Monday night requiring hospitals across the nation to tell Medicare patients when they receive observation care but haven't been admitted to the hospital as inpatients.
The distinction is easy for patients to miss — until they get hit with big medical bills after a short stay.
Here's a bit of good news for Medicare, the popular government program that's turning 50 this week. Older Americans on Medicare are spending less time in the hospital; they're living longer; and the cost of a typical hospital stay has actually come down over the past 15 years, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The federal government released on Thursday a new five-star rating system for home health agencies, an effort to bring clarity to a fast-growing but fragmented corner of the medical industry where it's often difficult to distinguish good from bad.
Medicare applied the new quality measure to more than 9,000 agencies based on how quickly visits began and how often patients improved while under their care. Nearly half received average scores, with the government sparingly doling out top and bottom ratings.
Government audits just released as the result of a lawsuit detail widespread billing errors in private Medicare Advantage health plans going back years, including overpayments of thousands of dollars a year for some patients.
Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 11:39 am
Fraud and abuse continue to dog Medicare's popular prescription drug program, despite a bevy of initiatives launched to prevent them, according to two new reports by the inspector general of Health and Human Services.
Federal agents have arrested 243 people — including 46 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals — who are accused of running up more than $700 million in false Medicare billings. Charges range from fraud and money-laundering to aggravated identity theft and kickbacks.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch calls it "the largest criminal health care fraud takedown in the history of the Department of Justice."
Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 11:46 am
Federal officials have spent years locked in a secret legal battle with UnitedHealth Group, the nation's biggest Medicare Advantage insurer, after a government audit detected widespread overbilling at one of the company's health plans, newly released records show.
Talk about sticker shock: Some U.S. hospitals charge patients more than 10 times the rates paid by Medicare.
Of the 50 U.S. hospitals with the highest charges, 49 are for-profit institutions, 20 operate in Florida, and half are owned by a single chain, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs Monday.