Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

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Medicare scam hits Ogden

BY WHECTV: The Ogden Police Department warns residents of a Medicare scam in the area. 

A resident of Ogden received a call from the number 442-243-5485. The number showed, ‘Medicare’ on the caller ID. 

During the call, the scammer stated that they needed to verify information with the resident. They proceeded to ask the resident for their social security number and other personal information. (read more)

No, Medicare Won’t Go Broke In 2026. Yes, It Will Cost A Lot More Money

BY HOWARD GLECKMAN: Let’s get right to the point: Medicare is not going “broke” and recipients are in no danger of losing their benefits in 2026.

Not broke, but not healthy

However, that does not mean Medicare is healthy. Largely because of the inexorable aging of the Baby Boomers, program costs continue to grow. And, as the Trustee’s report forthrightly acknowledges, long-term costs could well increase even faster than the official predictions. The main risks: scheduled limits on payments to doctors and other providers may never be implemented and unknown future medical technologies are likely to increase all health costs, including for Medicare. (read more)

Mandatory bundled-payment Medicare programs should stay, Penn study suggests

BY UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Hospitals that receive bundled payments for joint replacements either voluntarily or through Medicare’s mandatory programs, vary by size and volume, but not in spending or quality, signaling a need for both programs, according to a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The authors say the results show that voluntary programs tend to engage larger non-profit hospitals, whereas some hospitals with lower volumes and fewer resources might only participate under a mandatory program. The results are published this week in the June issue of the journal Health Affairs.

Some policymakers, arguing that mandatory bundled-payment programs disadvantage some hospitals, have called for these programs to be strictly voluntary. The study, however, found no evidence that hospitals in the mandatory program were obviously disadvantaged compared to their voluntary counterparts. (read more)

Azar and Congress seek to fix Medicare wage index

BY VIRGIL DICKSON: HHS Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers they should draft legislation to update and fix the Medicare wage index.

The index, which was created in the 1980s, sets payments to hospitals as adjusted for market conditions, such as the differences in hospital wage rates among labor markets. It also takes into account the cost of living.

Increasingly, rural hospitals in areas where the cost of living tends to be lower cite the index as a reason for closures.

“We believe the wage index needs to be addressed and fixed,” Azar told members of the House’s Education and the Workforce Committee Wednesday. “It’s been stuck in time.” (read more)

Medicare, Social Security finances worsening, federal report warns

BY RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and ANDREW TAYLOR: Medicare will run out of money sooner than expected, and Social Security’s financial problems can’t be ignored either, the government said Tuesday in a sobering checkup on programs vital to the middle class.

The report from program trustees says Medicare will become insolvent in 2026 — three years earlier than previously forecast. Its giant trust fund for inpatient care won’t be able to fully cover projected medical bills starting at that point.

The report says Social Security will become insolvent in 2034 — no change from the projection last year. (read more)

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