From Akron to Tampa Bay, from New York City to San Francisco, Medicare on Friday launches an ambitious experiment changing how it pays for hip and knee replacements in an effort to raise quality and lower costs.
Medicare is expanding a major experiment that strives to keep seniors healthier by coordinating basic medical care to prevent common problems that often lead to hospitalization, the agency said on Monday.
Medicare spending on breakthrough medications for hepatitis C will nearly double this year, passing $9 billion, according to new government figures. That's raising insurance costs for all beneficiaries, whether or not they have the liver-wasting viral disease.
Medicare said Friday it will pay doctors to help patients plan what kind of care they want at the end of life -- an idea more broadly accepted than six years ago, when it touched off a political uproar about "death panels."
Six years ago, a proposal for Medicare to cover end-of-life counseling touched off a political uproar that threatened to stall President Barack Obama's health care law in Congress. Wednesday, when Medicare finally announced it will make the change, reaction was muted.
The most-used medicines in Medicare's prescription drug program are generics, but the program spends the most on brand-name drugs, led by the heartburn treatment Nexium, according to an unprecedented release of government data on Thursday.