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Hospice care is specialized, compassionate care for those diagnosed with a limited life expectancy.  Good hospice care should enhance quality of life for the patient and should support caregivers.  The Medicare Conditions of Participation afford hospice patients certain enumerated rights including the right to choose one's own attending physician.  A new rule promulgated in the … Read more

Fall is the time for Medicare beneficiaries to explore their options regarding Part D prescription drug plans and Part C Medicare Advantage plans.  The Annual Coordinated Election Period (ACEP) for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans will start on October 15th and end on December 7th. This means that Medicare beneficiaries have to … Read more

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently issued a Survey and Certification Tool, with an introduction by Secretary Greenlee of the Administration for Community Living (ACL) within the Department of Health and Human Services.  The focus of the video learning modules is to provide useful information to long-term care facility staff about … Read more

On August 26, 2014, the Center for Medicare Advocacy filed a nationwide class action lawsuit in United States District Court (Lessler et al. v. Burwell, 3:14-CV-1230, D. Conn.). The five named plaintiffs, from Connecticut, New York and Ohio, have all waited longer than the statutory 90-day limit for a decision on their Medicare Administrative Law … Read more

A recent study in the Journal of Health Care Finance finds that Florida nursing facilities owned by private equity firms have fewer registered nurses and more deficiencies than chain-owned for-profit facilities and that the longer the facilities are owned by private equity firms, the fewer registered nurses they employ and the more deficiencies they have.[1]  … Read more

The use of “Observation Status” – treating certain hospitalized Medicare patients as outpatients when their care is indistinguishable from that of formally admitted inpatients – continues to garner considerable public and Congressional attention. It remains an unresolved problem that has serious financial consequences for Medicare patients and their families.[1]   On July 30, 2014, the Senate … Read more

On July 11, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its proposed rules for the 2015 calendar year.  Among these proposed rules, CMS adds four additions to covered telehealth services: psychoanalysis and psychotherapy (including family psychotherapy with and without the patient present), prolonged outpatient services such as evaluation and management, and annual … Read more

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are increasingly dropping doctors and other health care providers from their contracted networks, often in the middle of a plan year, when most plan enrollees are not permitted to change plans.  MA enrollees often get little advance warning, and some lose access to doctors they have seen for a long time, … Read more

A study assessing the outcomes of patients who were treated in inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) with clinically and demographically similar patients who received their post-acute rehabilitation in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) finds that IRFs provide better care to their patients over a number of outcome measures – IRF patients live longer, spend more days at … Read more

Quick Summary When Medicare beneficiaries elect the hospice benefit, they waive Medicare coverage for all care and services related to the terminal illness that are not on the hospice plan of care and provided through the hospice provider.  This means that when a terminally ill beneficiary elects hospice, all of the medications needed to control … Read more