KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

MedPAC Staffers Recommend Allowing Geographically Based Medicare Physician Payments To Proceed

These pay reductions have long been frozen, but that freeze is set to expire on Dec. 31. MedPAC has yet to vote on the issue. Meanwhile, a pair of KHN stories examine separate Medicare issues, including the difficult decisions in play as a family member enrolls in the program, as well as the details of a study about seniors' ER visits.  

Modern Healthcare: Let Geographic Doc-Pay Cuts Proceed, Say MedPAC Staffers
The staff of Congress' primary Medicare advisory body recommended allowing long-frozen geographically based payment cuts for physicians to go into effect. The draft recommendations, on which the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has yet to vote, applied to the program's system for supplementing or cutting physician payments based on a comparison of costs in the area in which they practice to a national average. A legislative freeze on the cuts side of that equation is scheduled to expire Dec. 31 (Daly, 10/7).

Kaiser Health News: Critical Decisions Await Patient, Family Members When Medicare Deadline Looms
When a spouse or parent signs up for Medicare, it is often perplexing -- and unnerving -- for the rest of the family who may have grown used to cushy employer-sponsored coverage. For example, young adults up to age 26, who were covered under their parent's insurance, are no longer covered when their parent moves to Medicare (Varney, 10/8). 

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Study: Most Seniors' ER Visits Could Be Avoided
Nearly 60 percent of Medicare beneficiary visits to emergency rooms and 25 percent of their hospital admissions were 'potentially preventable' -- had patients received better care at home or in outpatient settings -- according to results of a study released Friday by a congressional advisory board (Galewitz, 10/5). 

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