Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News


10% of Medicare Advantage Members Receive Chronic Care Reminders

BY THOMAS BEATON: Only 10 percent of Medicare Advantage (MA) and Medigap plan members receive chronic care management reminders,, according to a new survey from Healthmine.

The CDC estimates that 70 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries have at least one chronic condition, which means that the low rate of chronic disease communications between health plans and members affects most beneficiaries. The top chronic conditions among Medicare members include hypertension (66 percent), hyperlipidemia (42 percent), and diabetes (25 percent).

Many MA and Medigap beneficiaries feel that health plans aren’t doing enough to help connect them to services, and only communicate for billing or transactional purposes, the survey indicated. (read more)

Trump’s top Medicare official slams ‘Medicare for All’

BY RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR: The Trump administration’s Medicare chief on Wednesday slammed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ call for a national health plan, saying “Medicare for All” would undermine care for seniors and become “Medicare for None.”

The broadside from Medicare and Medicaid administrator Seema Verma came in a San Francisco speech that coincides with a focus on health care in contentious midterm congressional elections. (read more)

OPINION: The decay of Medicare Part D

BY CHRIS POPE: The Trump administration recently floated ideas to cut the cost of drugs for those enrolled in Medicare. Among these was a proposal to shift some physician-administered drugs from Medicare’s Part B (which pays more for drugs that cost more, even if cheaper options exist), to its Part D (where price reductions for drugs can be negotiated, by steering patients to cost-effective alternatives). Part D’s payment structure has helped reduce the cost of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit well below the levels projected when it was established in 2003.

Yet a reinsurance provision in the design of Part D is gradually eliminating incentives to control the program’s drug costs. This should be reformed, but drug costs are merely one manifestation of Medicare’s open-ended incentives to inflate expenditures. It is by focusing on this larger context that policymakers can best improve value for taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries alike. (read more)

House Dems introduce bill to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices

BY PETER SULLIVAN: House Democrats on Wednesday introduced a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, hoping to lay the groundwork for a push on the issue next year.

President Trump previously supported the idea, which is usually associated with Democrats, but did not propose it as part of the drug pricing plan he released in May.

Democrats have attacked Trump for not going far enough to reduce soaring medication costs. (read more)

Feds start Medicare card switch in Vermont to protect against fraud

BY MIKE FAHER: Federal officials are issuing new Medicare cards to more than 141,000 Vermonters in an effort to better prevent fraud.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began mailing the cards this week to Vermont recipients as part of an incremental rollout nationwide.

The key change is that the new cards no longer feature Social Security numbers. Instead, recipients are getting a “unique, randomly-assigned” Medicare identification number. (read more)

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