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Telehealth Serving Some Medicare Patients Well

Medicare patients with serious mental health problems were well-served through telehealth during the COVID-19 crisis. According to a new study published by the JAMA Network, such patients experienced … 13.0% more mental health visits than those receiving care at practices that largely used in-person visits.  There were no changes in medication adherence, hospital and emergency department use, or mortality based on the extent of telemental health use. The study’s findings support continued use of telehealth for Medicare patients with mental health problems even now that the greatest threat of the pandemic has passed. Learn more about how the study was [...]

2023-11-01T13:00:57+00:00November 1, 2023|Medicare, Telehealth|

Medicaid Now Covering Care on the Street

Medicaid is now paying providers for “street medicine”:  care provided to the homeless and delivered on the street as opposed to in traditional medical settings such as clinics, offices, and hospitals. For years, programs throughout the country have focused on enrolling the homeless in Medicaid and, whether they are insured by Medicaid or not, providing care to such individuals right on the street.  Traditionally, however, such care has almost always been rejected for payment by Medicaid. Beginning in October, however, Medicaid began reimbursing providers for such care. The homeless, providers have long maintained, are in dire need of care to [...]

2023-11-01T06:00:43+00:00November 1, 2023|Medicaid|

Federal Health Policy Update for October 26

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government for October 20-26.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents. Congress More than three weeks after House Republicans voted Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA) out of the speaker’s office, the House has elected Rep. Mike Johnson (LA) to the position.  Speaker Johnson is a social conservative and has pushed for cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, including plans to roll back Medicaid expansion in 2019. The Speaker has said he intends for the House to take up as many FY 2024 spending bills as possible [...]

Medicaid Unwinding Continues

States continue to work on redetermining Medicaid eligibility for those who were enrolled in the program during the period of continuous eligibility that extended through the COVID-19 public health emergency and ended on March 31. Six months into what has come to be known as Medicaid unwinding, approximately 30 percent of the 95 million people enrolled in the program when the unwinding process officially began have now had their eligibility reviewed.  Among them, 16 million have seen their eligibility renewed while 8.8 million have been disenrolled from the program. The numbers vary considerably from state to state, with different states [...]

2023-10-26T06:00:16+00:00October 26, 2023|Medicaid|

Telehealth May Help Medicaid Patients With Opioid-Related Addictions

When access to buprenorphine treatment became available to Medicaid beneficiaries in response to the COVID-19 crisis, patients who obtained such treatment via telehealth were more likely to remain under treatment for their disorder than those who received similar care through physician offices. This new finding, reported in the JAMA Network, suggests that prescribing buprenorphine treatment through telehealth may be beneficial to patients and should remain an option for patients and providers after the COVID-19-inspired policy, extended after the formal end of the public health emergency, expires at the end of 2024, as currently scheduled. While the study found that patients [...]

2023-10-25T06:00:28+00:00October 25, 2023|Medicaid, Telehealth|

“Rural Emergency Hospital” Status: To Be or Not to Be?

That is the question for many of the country’s small rural hospitals, including the more than 600 that are thought to be in danger of closing in the near future. In 2020 Congress directed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to introduce the Rural Emergency Hospital, a new Medicare provider type that would give additional federal funding to qualified rural hospitals in exchange for changes in how they do business. For small hospitals that are willing to discontinue providing inpatient services and cease participating in the 340B prescription drug discount program, CMS offers enhanced payments for outpatient services and [...]

2023-10-25T01:00:35+00:00October 25, 2023|hospitals, Medicare, Medicare reimbursement policy|

MedPAC Outlines Plans for the Coming Year

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has shared its agenda for its 2023-2024 public meeting cycle. According to MedPAC, it will engage in its regular work of offering recommendations to Congress on the adequacy of Medicare payments to providers and, as needed, suggest changes in those payments.  In addition, it will fulfill two statutory requirements in the coming year:  to evaluate Medicare Advantage special needs plans for individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid and to review the new “Rural Emergency Hospital” designation. In addition, MedPAC writes that We are working on several other issues in the Medicare program as well, [...]

Federal Health Policy Update for October 19

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government for October 13-19.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents. Congress At this moment there is still no Speaker of the House of Representatives.  After 20 and then 22 House Republicans voted against Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, Mr. Jordan has joined others, including senior Democrats, in supporting a plan to expand the powers of the temporary speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC).  Mr. Jordan remains the speaker designee, an option that will enable him to continue to seek [...]

Nursing Shortage? Says Who?

Hospitals say there is a major shortage of nurses in the U.S.  Nursing groups say there are plenty of nurses – just not enough nurses willing to work in hospitals under current conditions. Others believe the problem is not so much a shortage of nurses as it is a shortage of nursing where nursing is needed. Whether there really is a shortage of nurses, and how to address it, if there is one, depends in large part on the answer to that question. Learn more about the different perspectives on this question from the Stat article “Is there a nursing [...]

2023-10-19T06:00:40+00:00October 19, 2023|hospitals|

Federal Health Policy Update for October 12

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government for October 6-12.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents. No Surprises Act CMS has reopened the federal independent dispute resolution (IDR) portal for the initiation ofnew single disputes, including single disputes involving bundled payment arrangements, but parties still cannot initiate new disputes involving air ambulance services and batched disputes for air ambulance and non-air ambulance items and services.  IDR portal functionalities related to previously initiated batched disputes also are unavailable.  Learn more about this action from this CMS announcement, which includes an [...]

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