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LARGEST HOSPICE CHAIN SUED FOR ALLEGED FALSE BILLINGS TO MEDICARE

America's largest for-profit hospital chain, Vitas Hospice Services LLC, and other hospice subsidiaries of Chemed Corp are being sued by the US Justice Department for alleged false billings for Medicare hospice services. The suit (Complaint) is also filed against Vitas Healthcare Corporation. Vitas provides hospice services to patients in a total of 18 states - Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Missouri, Michigan, Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Delaware, Connecticut, Colorado, California, and the District of Columbia.


LOW-INCOME ADULTS LARGELY SUPPORT MEDICAID EXPANSION'

The Affordable Care Act - signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010 - called for an expansion of Medicaid, which projected insurance coverage for 16 million additional low-income Americans. But a June 2012 Supreme Court ruling modified this expansion, giving states the option of whether or not to expand Medicaid coverage.


LOWEST PREMIUM - HUMANA WALMART-PREFERRED RX PLAN - ANNOUNCED

According to Humana Inc., a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan co-branded with Walmart Stores Inc. - The Humana Walmart-Preferred Rx Plan (PDP) - can, according to CMS, save over $450 in 2011, with a monthly premium of $14.80, as well as low copays and cost-shares for Medicare beneficiaries, including people with disabilities and seniors.


MEDICAID: DO DIFFERING STATE REIMBURSEMENT POLICIES AFFECT CANCER SCREENING?

A recent study investigating the impact of state-specific differences in Medicaid provision has found that screening rates for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer could be affected by certain state-specific reimbursement and eligibility policies. The Medicaid health insurance program for particular low-income individuals funds the medical care of a large proportion of the US population.


MEDICARE CHANGE SHEDS LIGHT ON NEW INFECTION PRECAUTION MEASURES

As part of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Rule-1553-P, effective October 1, 2008, Medicare will no longer pay for eight conditions that can be acquired by patients during hospital stays that could have been reasonably prevented by following evidence based guidelines. CMS hopes the change will improve accuracy in Medicare's payment under the acute care hospital inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS), while also creating incentives for the healthcare community to improve quality initiatives and patient care.


MEDICARE SPENDS TOO MUCH ON BRAND-NAME DRUGS

If Medicare's drug spending patterns regarding brand-name and generic drugs were the same as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it would save over one billion dollars every year, according to a new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. The authors explained, as background information, that the VA and Medicare Part D use different approaches to managing prescription drug benefits - with huge differences in their drug spending.


MEDICARE WILL NOT PAY FOR HOSPITAL MISTAKES AND INFECTIONS, NEW RULE

Starting in 2009, Medicare, the US government's health insurance program for elderly and disabled Americans, will not cover the costs of "preventable" conditions, mistakes and infections resulting from a hospital stay. So for instance, if you are on Medicare and you pick up a hospital acquired infection while you are being treated for something that is covered by Medicare, the extra cost of treating the hospital acquired infection will no longer be paid for by Medicare.


NIXON AND OBAMA HEALTH CARE SIMILARITIES ILLUSTRATE PARTY DIFFERENCES

President Obama's Affordable Care Act has been labeled "a radical liberal plan" and "socialized medicine" by Republican opposition. Yet the roles were reversed in the early 1970s when President Nixon proposed his health plans. A new article in Pediatrics compares the proposals of both presidents and how opposition responded to them.


POINTLESS PROSTATE CANCER HORMONAL TREATMENT DROPPED AFTER MEDICARE REIMBURSEMENT CHANGE

There was a sharp drop in the number of unnecessary prostate cancer hormonal treatments after Medical policy changes reduced reimbursements. However, hormonal therapy for prostate cancer patients who clearly benefited from such therapy continued unaffected, researchers wrote in an article published in the NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine).


RENOWNED HOSPITALS 'NOT ALWAYS THE BEST'

Patients may think that when it comes to having surgery, the bigger and more renowned the hospital is, the better the treatment they are likely to receive. But a new US hospital ratings report has revealed that this is not necessarily the case. The Consumers Union, the non-profit organization behind Consumer Reports magazine, has provided hospitals in the US with individual surgery ratings, in an attempt to guide patients to the right medical centers.


OLDER ADULTS WHO MIGHT BENEFIT FROM PET OWNERSHIP OFTEN FACE BARRIERS

Older adults - particularly if they are struggling to make ends meet - are at high risk of illness and emotional disorders, the effects of which can be greatly reduced by pet ownership. A pet provides companionship to an older person and can also boost their well-being. In a paper published in the journal Activities, Adaption & Aging, researchers review the literature on pet ownership by older adults and, after outlining the potential benefits to their physical and emotional health, discuss the barriers they face in adopting pets.


PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS HELP ELDERLY PEOPLE

If you are over 60 you should take either probiotic drinks, yoghurts or capsules as they will protect you from developing such bowel conditions as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), says researchers from Reading University, UK. The researchers stressed that there are good and ineffective probiotic products on the market and that people should choose their supplements carefully.


REGULAR EXERCISE IN MIDDLE AGE PROTECTS HEART

Research on more than 4,000 middle-aged Britons finds that staying physically active into the senior years is linked to lower markers of inflammation which is important for protecting the heart. The researchers say even moderate intensity exercise like housework, gardening and brisk walking can make a difference.


EX-MILITARY PERSONNEL WHO SERVE LESS THAN 4 YEARS 'ARE AT INCREASED RISK OF SUICIDE'

A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry reports that US military deployments to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom were not linked with an increase in suicides among military personnel, despite rising suicide rates among active duty personnel. However, the study does find that service members who leave the military after a short period are more at risk of suicide than those who leave after 4 or more years.


AGE AND HEART FAILURE LINKED TO REDUCTION IN VERBAL MEMORY

According to a report in the August issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, older patients with lower rates of left ventricular ejection fraction (measurement of heart pumping efficiency of the left ventricle with each contraction) appear more likely to have a significantly reduced verbal memory function compared with patients of a younger age.


AGING HAPPENS FASTER WITH POOR DIET AND NO EXERCISE

An unhealthy diet and lack of exercise may speed up the aging of senescent cells, leading to an acceleration of diseases and conditions normally seen in older age, according to research findings published in Diabetes. Ignoring modifiable factors can accelerate diseases related to aging. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity affects 34.


AGING PROCESS REVERSED WITH POSITIVE LIFESTYLE CHANGES

Positive lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthy diet and moderate exercise, may reverse the aging process, according to a study published in The Lancet Oncology. Researchers from the University of California in San Francisco have discovered that certain lifestyle changes may increase the length of telomeres.


ALTERNATIVES TO NURSING HOMES - HOW TO IMPROVE SENIORS' QUALITY OF LIFE

There are alternatives to nursing homes for frail older people, even for those with long-term health problems. They just need help to convert 'disability' into 'capability'. For instance, a handyman who repairs an unsteady banister could contribute a great deal in allowing an older frail person to remain in their own home rather than having to go into a nursing home, the same as visits from occupational health therapists or a nurse, who could assist the elderly with their often complex medication regimen and make it easier for them to get around their house and neighborhood.


ANTI-AGING PEPTIDE RECOVERS FUR GROWTH, KIDNEY HEALTH IN MICE

An anti-aging therapy could be one step closer; in a new study, researchers reveal how a peptide led to the destruction of cells that play a role in aging, reversing fur loss, kidney damage, and frailty in mice. The fast-aging mouse on the left shows fur regrowth as a result of peptide treatment. The mouse on the right was untreated.


ANTIOXIDANT IN BROCCOLI 'SHOWS PROMISE' AS TREATMENT FOR PROGERIA

A new study finds that the nuclei of cells in children affected by the extremely rare disease progeria are poor at breaking down and disposing of defective proteins. It also finds that an antioxidant present in broccoli appears to give the protein-clearing system a boost, potentially reducing the effects of the disease.