Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

Things to Know about Medicare

Medicare Changes You Need To Know In 2018

BY DAVID HAASS: So far, 2018 has brought many new changes for Medicare patients. If you’re a Medicare agent or have a Medicare plan, you should be aware of these changes. Here are some of the biggest changes that you will see this year, including information and resources regarding new Medicare cards that will begin to be mailed out in April.. (read more)

How Trump’s New Medicare Rules Boost Amazon And Walmart

BY BRUCE JAPSEN: New rules allowing Medicare Advantage plans to offer more supplemental benefits could open the door to new vendors like Amazon and Walmart to work with health insurers.

Historically, Medicare Advantage plans couldn’t include a wheelchair ramp, a dehumidifier or a ride to the local grocery store as a benefit along with the traditional coverage of hospitalization, physician services or drug coverage. Medicare Advantage plans contract with the federal government to provide extra benefits and services to seniors, such as disease management and nurse help hotlines, with some even providing vision and dental care and wellness programs. (read more)

Absence of Evidence in Medicare Genetic Test Decision

BY GREG LANGLOIS: The Medicare program’s decision to cover personalized medicine tests for cancer patients earned praise from industry groups and others, but one cancer research advocacy group told me the government insurer could have done more to help researchers understand how well the tests work.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said March 16 it would reimburse the costs of next-generation sequencing (NGS) diagnostic tests if they are FDA-approved companion diagnostics. Right now, a Cambridge, Mass.-based Foundation Medicine Inc. product is the only one that meets the new coverage criteria.

The CMS opted not to include coverage with evidence development, which would have required providers of not-yet-approved NGS tests to collect data on how well they’re working in exchange for Medicare paying for them. (read more)

2 things you should know about Medicare this month

BY PHILIP MOELLER: 1. Medicare card numbers will no longer be based on a person’s Social Security number but will use a randomly generated number.

This is certainly good news on the privacy front, as having your Social Security number stolen by identity thieves is a major concern. However, the new randomly assigned numbers are going to be tough if not impossible to remember. (read more)

Medicare Official Says He Reacted to Rate Leaks With ‘Extreme Anger’

BY BOB VAN VORIS: The former head of the government agency that sets Medicare reimbursement rates told a jury he reacted with “extreme concern and extreme anger” when he learned about leaks of planned changes in payments for cancer radiation treatments in 2012.

“This is a criminal offense,” Jonathan Blum, the former director of the Center for Medicare said in an internal email in October 2012.

Blum testified Tuesday in the insider-trading case in New York against four people including David Blaszczak, a former government health agency official who’s charged with peddling details about government health-spending policy changes while working as a “political intelligence” consultant to hedge funds. (read more)

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