Jordan Rau’s stories have been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, and on npr.org and nbcnews.com, among other media outlets. He came to KHN when it was started in 2009 from the Los Angeles Times, where he covered California government and health care politics in Sacramento. He previously reported for Newsday in New York, the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire and two newspapers in Vermont. | Contact: JordanR@kff.org | @JordanRau
A new analysis concludes that things like the prevalence of smoking, obesity and diabetes best explain why Medicare spending in some regions of the country is higher, instead of how medicine is practiced, as other researchers believe.
Hospitals complain they are bearing the brunt of sustaining payment levels for doctors but the changes in Medicare were a long time coming.
Under a program set up by the health law, payments to 1,557 hospitals will be increased, while 1,427 will drop.
Free scales, diet tips and home visits from nurses all aim to curtail readmissions.
The 2010 federal health law calls for penalties for hospitals with high rates of readmissions as the government seeks to trim spending in the the health program for the elderly and disabled.
Among the highly anticipated announcements are regulations on the new state insurance exchanges, taxes for medical devices, funding for hospitals treating the uninsured and insurance coverage for contraception.
Seniors in both traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans would be affected by the change, according to research that looks at how a voucher system would have worked in 2010.
Federal officials made small errors in calculating how much hospitals will be docked for having too many patients return within 30 days. Many hospitals will lose a bit more money under revised calculations.
Among those under 55, a majority want to keep the current program, but 44 percent prefer switching to premium support – a proposal panned by those 55 and older.
In October, hospitals stand to gain or lose as much as 1 percent of reimbursements. But experts say most will break even.