February 11, 2016
By Stuart H. Shapiro With so many Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls still looking for ways to separate themselves from crowded fields and pull ahead in the polls and the primaries, you would think they would try harder to appeal directly to the 80 million baby boomers who will help decide this election. For Pennsylvania and New Jersey, whose primaries come later, this is especially important. Yet so far, after about a dozen debates and a lot of bobbing and weaving on mostly trivial issues, none of the candidates has addressed the serious question of how we will provide and pay for the long-term-care needs of our rapidly aging population.
February 11, 2016
A federal jury convicted a registered nurse on four counts of health care fraud Monday in a case in which prosecutors alleged she aided her employer in a plan to bilk Medicare out of more than $9 million. Between 2005 and 2008, Patricia McGill, 68, served as the former director of professional services of Home Care Hospice, the Bustleton facility that prosecutors alleged enrolled dozens of patients who did not meet federal guidelines for hospice care. In addition, the government accused McGill, under the watch of the facility's owners, of overseeing the falsification of records to suggest patients were sicker than they were or received treatments that were never given.
February 6, 2016 |
Charles Prozzillo's life changed for the worse when Medicare stopped paying for his ambulance rides to dialysis a year ago. The 72-year-old Fort Washington man, who had been a hairdresser with his own salon and volunteer firefighter in younger days, was being treated for late stages of kidney failure. Three times a week for five years, he had gone to a dialysis facility to have his blood cleansed of waste, a job his kidneys could no longer do. The sessions gave him cramps and tired him, but they kept him alive.
February 4, 2016
By Cynthia Reilly In a political climate in which the two major parties don't always see eye to eye, one issue is bringing them together: Republicans and Democrats agree that we must address the tragedy of prescription drug abuse. With 44 people dying every day from overdoses of oxycodone, hydrocodone, and similar opioid pain relievers, there is growing awareness that misuse of these drugs can affect almost anyone. Presidential hopefuls on both sides of the aisle have told personal stories about the terrible toll this epidemic has taken on family, friends, and colleagues, and some have proposed detailed policies to address prevention and treatment of abuse.
January 24, 2016 |
When it comes to selecting a home health care agency, nurse Susan Sellechia, 34, says what matters most are compassion, education, and a drive to keep patients out of the hospital. Her patient at Deer Meadows Home Health and Support Services, Joan Hutchins, 84, who was treated for ulcers on her legs, agrees. "The nurses here have been very patient with me," said Hutchins. "I couldn't get any better care. " In July, Medicare instituted a five-star rating system to help consumers compare and select agencies.
January 12, 2016
By Perry Farmer and Barbara Ebling It's January, and families are facing some serious decisions about quality of life. For some, it may mean something as simple as a new gym membership. For others, the decision is far more serious. Many are looking for ways to ease the pain of a terminally ill family member through a regimen of palliative care. This year, more physicians will be doing advanced care planning. If you have Medicare, your doctor will now be reimbursed for an appointment to discuss the type of life you want when ill. Palliative care may be part of that conversation.
December 30, 2015 |
Bettemarie Bond is an overcomer. She went to college, worked full-time as an occupational therapist, and bought a house in Levittown, despite rare disorders that require her to have all nourishment and medication pumped round-the-clock into a vein in her heart. But last summer, when declining health forced her to go on disability at age 45, she faced a problem that floored her. Bond discovered that she would qualify for Medicare this month. Unlike the private health insurance she had through her job, however, the government insurer would not cover her costly intravenous therapy at home, only in a medical facility.
December 27, 2015 |
After the last of the baby boomers become fully eligible for Medicare, the federal health program can expect significantly higher costs in 2030, because of the high number of beneficiaries and because many are expected to be significantly less healthy than previous generations. The typical Medicare beneficiary who is 65 or older then will more likely be obese, disabled, and suffering from chronic conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure than those in 2010, according to a report by the University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.
November 18, 2015
ISSUE | MEDICARE Help kidney patients Harold Brubaker's article on Medicare Advantage open enrollment ("Seniors shopping for private Medicare have many new choices," Nov. 10) might have noted that some 4,700 beneficiaries in the Philadelphia area are not permitted to choose private plans because they have kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease. This prohibition may have made sense three decades ago, when private Medicare plans were created, but today it constitutes discrimination, preventing kidney patients from enjoying the maximum out-of-pocket limits that apply in private plans but not in traditional fee-for-service Medicare.
November 11, 2015 |
The financial pain of a two-week hospital stay 15 years ago for a heart ailment gives Patricia Johnstone a sharp focus when she shops for private Medicare insurance. "The hospital is the main thing I'm concerned about," said Johnstone, 75, who with her husband, Robert, attended a Health Partners Plans information session last week at the Wegmans market in Collegeville. The Johnstones were unsettled when they heard that hospital stays would cost up to $295 a day for the first six days under Health Partners, which is expanding its Medicare business into the Pennsylvania suburbs next year.