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Medicare reimburses Medicare Advantage plans using a complex formula called a risk score that computes higher rates for sicker patients and lower ones for healthier people - but federal officials rarely demand documentation to verify that patients have these conditions.

A review of 90 government audits reveals that health insurers that issue Medicare Advantage plans have repeatedly tried to sidestep regulations requiring them to document medical conditions the government paid them to treat. Read more»

Although the federal government doesn’t track who’s gotten the drug, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study using data from 30 medical centers found that Black and Hispanic patients with COVID were much less likely to receive Paxlovid than white patients.

Nearly 6 million Americans have taken Paxlovid - which helped prevent many people infected with COVID-19 from being hospitalized or dying - courtesy of the federal government, but the government plans to stop footing the bill within months, and millions may have to pay the full price. Read more»

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta.

Earlier this year, top leadership at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began the task of reforming the agency, but the current workplace structure could be a major barrier as the agency has embraced a workplace program that allows most of its scientists to stay remote. Read more»

Because the nation’s roughly 28,900 assisted living communities are regulated by states and there are no federal standards, practices vary widely and generally there are fewer protections for residents than are found in nursing homes.

Assisted living communities too often fail to meet the needs of older adults and should focus more on residents’ medical and mental health concerns - changes inspired by the altered profile of the population that assisted living now serves. Read more»

CMS has completed only 90 audits over the past decade, a time when Medicare Advantage has grown explosively.

Newly released federal audits reveal widespread overcharges and other errors in payments to Medicare Advantage health plans for seniors, with some plans overbilling the government more than $1,000 per patient a year on average. Read more»

Nationwide, about 50 million people — or 1 in 5 adults — are on a financing plan to pay off a medical or dental bill, and about a quarter of those borrowers are paying interest.

As Americans are overwhelmed with medical bills, patient financing is now a multibillion-dollar business, with private equity and big banks lined up to cash in when patients and their families can’t pay for care. Read more»

It’s extremely difficult for consumers to evaluate policy options without the plan finder, and drug plans do not have to cover all injectable insulins.

Though Congress approved a cap on what seniors will pay for insulin as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, along with free vaccines and other improvements, the change came too late to add to the Medicare plan finder, the online tool that helps beneficiaries find the best bargain. Read more»

Private equity has tended to find legal ways to bill more for medical services: trimming services that don’t turn a profit, cutting staff, or employing personnel with less training to perform skilled jobs.

Private equity is rapidly moving to reshape health care in America - coming off a banner year in 2021 when the deep-pocketed firms plowed $206 billion into more than 1,400 acquisitions - and evidence is mounting that the practice has led to higher prices and diminished quality of care. Read more»

Higher costs push more Americans to look for cheaper alternatives that usually don’t provide as much coverage and can confuse consumers.

Millions of Americans can shop for Affordable Care Act-compliant health insurance plans - but experts caution that misleading marketing can direct consumers into buying health plans that exclude protections for preexisting conditions and leave patients vulnerable to large medical bills. Read more»

Many people who get coverage through their jobs also must select a plan at this time of year, and their decisions could be affected by new ACA rules.

Open enrollment for people who buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces begins Nov. 1, and even though much of the coverage stays the same from year to year, there are a few upcoming changes that consumers should note. Read more»

The FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 designated a new class of OTC hearing aids.

As of Monday, consumers are able to buy hearing aids - intended for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss - directly off store shelves and at dramatically lower prices as a 2017 federal law finally takes effect. Read more»

La Ley de reautorización de la FDA de 2017 designó una nueva clase de audífonos de venta libre.

A partir del lunes, los consumidores pueden comprar audífonos, destinados a adultos con pérdida auditiva de leve a moderada, directamente en los estantes de las tiendas y a precios mucho más bajos, ya que finalmente entra en vigencia una ley federal de 2017. Read more»

A U.S. map of teen birth rates from 2020, the latest data available, shows liberal-leaning states largely have the lowest teen birth rates, and conservative states largely have the highest rates.

Traditionally, teen motherhood is viewed as a symptom of poverty, invoking puzzled head-shaking by wizened adults and calls from many conservative lawmakers for young, unmarried people to stop having sex - but it is also a dangerous undertaking for a teen mother and baby. Read more»

Medicare Advantage must cover the same benefits as traditional Medicare, but the private plans have leeway when deciding how much nursing home care a patient needs.

Health care providers, nursing home representatives, and advocates for residents say Medicare Advantage plans are increasingly ending members’ coverage for nursing home and rehabilitation services before patients are healthy enough to go home. Read more»

In most cases, companies that win accelerated approval must submit additional data, after the drug goes to market, that proves it cures or successfully treats the disease.

The FDA’s accelerated approval - which allows pharmaceutical companies to license promising treatments without proving they are effective - is usually based on a “surrogate marker” of effectiveness, but debate rages over the validity of some of these stand-ins, and some of the drugs. Read more»

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