KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Advocates, Public Consider Medicare Cost Savings As Debate Continues

Medicare costs -- and controlling them -- are on the minds of the public, patient advocates, lawmakers and doctors as the debate spills off Capitol Hill and into American discourse.

The Washington Post's The Fact Checker: Are People Getting $3 In Medicare Benefits For Every $1 In Taxes
Back when the Fact Checker covered politics, "person in the street" interviews generally yielded a similar answer when people were asked about the government — and whether they got much in benefits for the taxes they pay. The common response: It's a raw deal for me. So we were struck by Barrasso's comment. Are folks really getting $3 in benefits for every $1 in taxes they have paid? And is this really the right way to look at this statistic? (Kessler, 3/20).

The Hill: Patient Groups Criticize Dem Calls For Medicare Price Negotiations
Patient groups and conservative activists pushed back Tuesday against renewed calls for Medicare to negotiate the prices it pays for prescription drugs. More than 330 patient groups, most of them state-based, wrote to lawmakers to oppose price negotiations in Medicare's drug benefit (Baker, 3/19).

Medpage Today: Docs Need To Learn More About Billing, Coding
Bigger steps should be taken to make physicians more aware of the inefficiencies that cause billions in lost health care dollars every year, according to Medicare officials. Physicians receive little education in how to manage and limit program inefficiencies, inappropriate payments, and exploitation, they wrote in a Viewpoint published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. More work is needed to ensure doctors are aware of "program integrity" -- a term payers use to refer to losses due to inappropriate payments or exploitation, Shantanu Agrawal, MD, medical director for the Center for Program Integrity at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in Baltimore, and colleagues wrote (Pittman, 3/19).

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