Medicare: Docs Not Leaving Program; Sen. Baldwin Pushes To Protect Rural Hospital Funds

In Medicare news, doctors may not be leaving the Medicare program in droves as some think. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is pushing back against Medicare cuts to rural hospital reimbursement, and some hospitals are making follow-up care changes to lower readmission rates.

NPR's Shots Blog: Doctors Fleeing Medicare? Not So Fast, Feds Say 
Are doctors so fed up with Medicare's stagnant pay and bureaucratic rules that they're bailing out of the program? Short answer: Yes, some are. Long answer: Not as many as you might have thought. ... [S]ome analysts at the Department of Health and Human Services just ran the numbers ... [and] found that the proportion of docs taking new patients has held pretty steady for Medicare in recent years -- rising about 3 percentage points, actually, to 90.7 percent in 2012 from 87.9 percent in 2005 (Hensley, 8/23).

The Associated Press: Baldwin Leads Protest Against Cuts To Rural Hospitals
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is leading a fight against proposed cuts to Medicare reimbursements for rural hospitals that she says will reduce access to health care and weaken rural economies across the nation. The Wisconsin Democrat and 19 other senators sent a letter dated Thursday to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Sen. Orrin Hatch, the ranking member on the committee, protesting changes to how Medicare classifies and pays critical access hospitals, or CAHs (Johnson, 8/25).

California Health Report: Readmission Penalties Prompt Hospitals To Improve Follow-Up Care
For every five Medicare beneficiaries discharged from a U.S. hospital, one person returns for within a month. Often, doctors and federal policymakers say, those people could have avoided that second trip to the hospital altogether if only they’d received good follow-up care (Richard, 8/23).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.