CMS issues annual report to Congress on Medicare RAC program   02/06/2013
Recovery audit contractors identified and corrected $797 million in Medicare overpayments and $142 million in underpayments in fiscal year 2011, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' annual RAC report to Congress. The RAC program produced FY 2011 net savings to Medicare (after appeals, RAC contingency fees and other costs) of $488.2 million. The report identifies the most frequent payment errors and CMS audit activities in FY 2011. Forty-four percent of the almost 61,000 RAC denials that were appealed in FY 2011 were overturned in favor of providers, CMS reports. For appeals of RAC Part A denials, CMS' data show a 24% overturn rate. AHA's RACTrac data show a 75% overturn rate for all RAC denials appealed by hospitals. For more information, view the AHA survey's latest findings and listen to the Dec. 19 RACTrac webinar.
CBO: Medicare spending grows at slowest rate since 2000   02/06/2013
Net outlays for Medicare grew by 3% in fiscal year 2012, the slowest rate since 2000, according to a report on the federal budget and economic outlook released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office. Medicaid spending declined by 9% for the year, primarily because a temporary increase in the federal share of the program's costs expired, CBO said. For FY 2013, the report estimates Medicare outlays will increase by 4% and Medicaid outlays by 6%.
Study: More Americans using hospice care at end of life   02/06/2013
More elderly Medicare patients are receiving hospice care when they die, and fewer are in the hospital, according to a study in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association. Among Medicare patients age 66 and older, use of hospice care at the time of death increased from 22% in 2000 to 42% in 2009 while acute care hospital use decreased from 33% to 25%, the study found. However, the proportion of older Medicare patients with an ICU stay in the last month of life also increased, from 24% to 29%. "Our findings of an increase in the number of short hospice stays following a hospitalization, often involving an ICU stay, suggest that increasing hospice use may not lead to a reduction in resource utilization," the authors said.