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.
October 17, 2015
ISSUE | CRIME AND RACE Stop the violence and police brutality Less-than-thoughtful conversations about crime and policing that lack a racial-justice lens only serve to perpetuate stereotypes of black criminality and enable acts of police criminality ("Race, crime, and police: A closer look," Sunday). When opponents of justice reform and the Black Lives Matter movement raise the specter of "black-on-black" crime, they hope to end discussions of police brutality. They would justify heavy-handed policing and deadly use of force against unarmed black people by claiming that their race is a criminal element.
June 7, 2015 |
Today and just about every day for the next 19 years, 10,000 Americans will turn 65 years old and become eligible for Medicare, the federal health insurance program. But let's say you're nearing 65 and have an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan you like. Do you have to enroll in Medicare when your odometer flips? Well, if you don't enroll, be careful cutting the cake, because your marketplace plan may no longer cover stitches. That's because your marketplace policy "will be a secondary plan to Medicare" after you turn 65, said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a national, nonprofit advocacy organization.
April 18, 2015 |
The mind-bogglingly complex American health-care system took a step toward user-friendliness Thursday when the federal government assigned star ratings - 1 to 5, like restaurant and movie reviews - for patient satisfaction at thousands of U.S. hospitals. Many leading hospitals received middling ratings, while comparatively obscure community hospitals and others that specialize in lucrative surgeries frequently received the most stars. In the Philadelphia region, for example, just two hospitals - Physicians Care Surgical Hospital in Montgomery County and Cancer Treatment Centers of America's Eastern Regional Medical Center in Crescentville - scored five stars.