Doing away with the regulations, which it has deemed are "excessively burdensome," would save an estimated $676 million a year, according to the administration. In other news, The Medicare NewsGroup examines the population of people with a permanent disability who also qualify for Medicare.
Reuters: U.S. Proposed Scrapping Some Obsolete Medicare Regulations
The Obama administration on Monday proposed eliminating certain obsolete Medicare regulations, a move it said would save hospitals and other health care providers an estimated $676 million a year, or $3.4 billion over five years. The Department of Health and Human Services described the targeted regulations as unnecessary or excessively burdensome and said their proposed elimination would allow greater efficiency without jeopardizing safety for the Medicare program's elderly and disabled beneficiaries (Morgan, 2/4).
The Medicare NewsGroup: Troubling Trends On Disability As A Back Door Into Medicare
No publicly presented Medicare reform proposal has addressed the growing problem of those younger than age 65 who are finding their way into the program through permanent disability. Those who qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and who have been disabled for at least two years are automatically enrolled in Medicare, no matter their age. That means a growing number of those under age 65 -- at least five million people -- are qualifying for lifetime benefits, according to a recent tally published in the journal Health Affairs. Policymakers are concerned about the rise in disabled adults because they often require expensive care, putting even more pressure on the health care system (Wasik, 2/4).
Meanwhile, a class-action lawsuit settlement addresses Medicare's therapy plateau --
The New York Times' The New Old Age: Therapy Plateau No Longer Ends Coverage
Congress continued for another year a little-known process that allows exceptions to what Medicare pays for physical, occupational and speech therapy. The Medicare limits before the exceptions are $1,900 for physical and speech therapy this year, and $1,900 for occupational therapy. In addition, the settlement of a class-action lawsuit last month now means that Medicare is prohibited from denying patients coverage for skilled nursing care, home health services or outpatient therapy because they had reached a "plateau," and their conditions were not improving (Jaffe, 2/4).