Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

Trump Medicare for All

Wolff book: Trump privately floated ‘Medicare for all’ 

BY JESSIE HELLMANN: President Trump reportedly floated the idea of expanding Medicare to cover everyone and intially appeared disinterested in repealing ObamaCare, according to a bombshell book about his first year in office.

Michael Wolff writes in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” that the president “probably preferred the notion of more people having health insurance than fewer people having it.”

“He was even, when push came to shove, rather more for ObamaCare than for repealing ObamaCare,” Wolff writes in his book, which was released midnight Thursday and has been attacked and dismissed as “fake news” by the White House. (read more)

Hey! Why didn’t my Social Security go up? 

BY DAN CAPLINGER: Every year, Social Security recipients look forward to the slight cost-of-living adjustment to their benefits that comes in January. After years of little or no increase, 2018 finally looked to be a saving grace for many seniors, with Social Security benefits slated to rise by 2% beginning this month.

Yet now that the calendar has changed and the New Year has begun, some recipients are starting to find out that their benefits aren’t going up nearly as much as they’d hoped. Some likely won’t see any boost at all. The reason: how Social Security interacts with Medicare, and what the past several years of nearly no Social Security increases has meant for the way that the government collects Medicare premiums. (read more)

3 strategies to reduce hospital readmission rates, costs  

BY JACQUELINE BELLIVEAU: Providers understand that high hospital readmission rates spell trouble for patient outcomes. But excessive rates may also threaten a hospital’s financial health, especially in a value-based reimbursement environment.

Readmissions are already one of the costliest episodes to treat, with hospital costs reaching $41.3 billion for patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reported.

The financial burden of hospital readmissions also recently increased as value-based reimbursement models replaced fee-for-service payments, especially for Medicare.

Medicare beneficiaries contributed the most to high hospital spending on readmissions. Hospital readmissions cost Medicare about $26 billion annually, with about $17 billion spent on avoidable hospital trips after discharge, according to data from the Center for Health Information and Analysis. (read more)

The GOP may not seek Social Security reform after all    

BY SEAN WILLIAMS: It took nearly a full year in the Oval Office, but President Trump and the Republican Party secured their first major legislative win last month when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law. It’s the first major overhaul of the U.S. tax code in around three decades, and speaks to one of the key promises that President Trump made while on the campaign trail.

Spending cuts are probably still on the GOP docket

However, tax reform comes with some big shoes to fill — namely, the expectation that permanently lower corporate tax rates and temporarily reduced individual federal income-tax rates will balloon the federal deficit by around $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Part of this deficit is expected to be dealt with by economic growth created by lower taxes. In other words, higher wages and more job creation could increase what the federal government is expected to collect. Nevertheless, cuts are probably still needed. (read more)

On health care, Democrats are shifting to offense

BY RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR: Democrats are shifting to offense on health care, emboldened by successes in defending the Affordable Care Act. They say their ultimate goal is a government guarantee of affordable coverage for all.

With Republicans unable to agree on a vision for health care, Democrats are debating ideas that range from single-payer, government-run care for all, to new insurance options anchored in popular programs like Medicare or Medicaid. There’s also widespread support for authorizing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, an idea once advocated by candidate Donald Trump, which has languished since he was elected president.

Democrats are hoping to winnow down the options during the 2018 campaign season, providing clarity for their 2020 presidential candidate. In polls, health care remains a top priority for the public, particularly for Democrats and independents. (read more)

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