Medicare over(under)sight

Hospitals must report the number of hospital-originated patient infections to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This is mandated because, according to a 2016 report (paywall warning), medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. No way?!? Way. Medicare is then supposed to review and investigate suspicious reports—ones that hint of under-reporting. But why would a healthcare facility under-report these figures, you ask? Because results are made public and hospitals receive financial bonuses or penalties based on their numbers. A recent investigation by the Office of the Inspector General reported that the vast majority of hospitals they sampled passed inspection, but CMS needs to rely more heavily on data analytics to identify likely offenders. If you ever think InsightCity is behaving unethically, let us know. We’ll investigate ourselves and get back to you. Trust us.

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3. Steep price for non-adherence among diabetics

When doctors tell you to take your medicine, eat well, and exercise, you should listen, right? Especially if you have a chronic illness like Type 2 Diabetes. Easier said than done, it seems. The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics has released a report showing that under 40% of Type 2 Diabetes patients globally achieve optimal levels of adherence and persistence. 4-15% of costs related to treating Type 2 Diabetes complications are associated with failure to properly follow medication and treatment regimens. In the US, these avoidable complications cost Medicare $4 billion every year. Ouch. Let’s all try listening to our doctors. Let’s lace up our sneakers and go find some Pokémon. Our bodies and wallets will be healthier for it.

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1. Are drug costs getting too high? Nah, bro.

States where medical marijuana is legal saw a decrease in Medicare Part D spending (that’s the part that covers prescription drugs). A study published Wednesday found that prescriptions for painkillers and antidepressants fell in states where medical marijuana could be obtained as an alternative. But, prescriptions for other drugs, like blood thinners, stayed stable. Conclusion? Buy stock in whoever owns Doritos. Another conclusion? Medical marijuana seems to have saved Medicare $165.2 million in 2013. While that’s less than half a percent of Medicare spending, it suggests that people are using marijuana for medical purposes. Your cousin in Colorado totally called it.

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5. BOOM (and a bust)

The Justice Department announced Wednesday that about 300 people have been charged with $900 million in false billing — a new record for the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. The arrested include 60 licensed medical professionals, including approximately 30 doctors. In one case, five people were arrested in Brooklyn for running an $86 million scam, in which they paid patients to receive unnecessary physical and occupational therapy, then billed Medicare and Medicaid for the treatment. We wish someone would pay us to go to the doctor.

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