Health care findings you may have missed in 2014

By The Center for Public Integrity

$70 billion in "improper" Medicare Advantage payments and the problem shared by 80 percent of nursing homes.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… ons. Keep reading …"

"… ar. If you weren't aware, you might have missed $70 billion in "improper" Medicare Advantage payments and the problem shared by 80 percent of all nursing hom …"

"…   1. $70 billion in 'improper' payments A Center investigation into Medicare Advantage uncovered how $70 billion in "improper" payments have been made …"

"… vantage uncovered how $70 billion in "improper" payments have been made to Medicare Advantage plans from 2008 to 2013. Most of these improper payments can be …"

Good news on health care in 2014, but we're still spending too much

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: fewer uninsured, but debt, mental health coverage and dental care are on the agenda for 2015.

Excerpts from this story referencing "White House":

"… year. There is plenty of reason to celebrate and, as you can imagine, the White House wants us to believe that we can thank the Affordable Care Act for all the …"

"… 4 percent in 2013 to 11.3 percent in the second quarter of 2014.  The White House Council of Economic Advisors says that’s the largest drop in at least fo …"

Koch group's income plummeted in non-election year

By Carrie Levine

Nonprofit Center to Protect Patient Rights raised in 2013 a tiny fraction of what it did during 2012, when federal political campaigns raged

Excerpts from this story referencing "Arizona":

"… . Prosper Inc. was founded in 2013 by Kirk Adams, a former speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, who this month was appointed as the new chief of …"

"… Representatives, who this month was appointed as the new chief of staff to Arizona Gov.-elect Doug Ducey, a Republican. The Center to Protect Patient Rights …"

"… ation. Both Prosper Inc. and the 60 Plus Association poured money into an Arizona campaign aimed at making customers who use solar power pay more. In Octob …"

"… aimed at making customers who use solar power pay more. In October 2013, Arizona Public Service Co., the state’s largest utility, publicly acknowledged f …"

High-stakes health care battle in the Green Mountain state

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: fate of Vermont single-payer initiative may depend on financing plan.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… insurance industry’s biggest opportunity to derail the state’s plans. Health insurers have reason to be concerned. Even though Vermont has just 627,000 …"

"… ide their involvement. We probably would never have known that America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s main trade group, funneled more than $10 …"

"… er their strategy, Shumlin last year formed a Business Advisory Council on Health Care Financing. The 21-member council “provides the governor with advice …"

"… chter, president of the nonprofit single-payer advocacy group Vermont Health Care for All, told me. “People need to be reminded that we will pay for …"

Exploding the myths about American health care

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: new film takes on 'world's best' medical system.

Excerpts from this story referencing "California":

"… RAM’s schedule for 2015 includes 22 clinics, in locations from Anaheim, California to Grundy, Virginia.   Not all of those who show up at RAM clinics a …"

Nursing homes serving minorities offering less care than those housing whites

By Jeff Kelly Lowenstein

Nursing homes serving blacks, Latinos provide less daily registered nurse care than those housing whites.

Excerpts from this story referencing "California":

"… . Charlene Harrington, a retired nursing professor from the University of California San Francisco, said that the absence of any federal regulations establishi …"

"… ursing home chain Skilled Healthcare Group Inc. for failing to comply with California’s minimum nurse staffing requirements and misleading its residents and t …"

Analysis shows widespread discrepancies in staffing levels reported by nursing homes

By Jeff Kelly Lowenstein

Analysis shows staffing levels lower than what's reported on public website.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Louisiana":

"… ported levels of registered nurse discrepancies were southern. Among them: Louisiana and Arkansas, two states where the average self-reported levels were at le …"

Running a five-star nursing home

By Jeff Kelly Lowenstein

Top-rated homes had more nurses, less turnover

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… site Nursing Home Compare than the average daily levels calculated through Medicare cost reports that are largely out of public view. In 2005 the Centers for …"

"… cost reports that are largely out of public view. In 2005 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for nursing home oversight, …"

"… id the Medicaid cost reports that have much of the same information as the Medicare documents are generally more accurate than the self-reported data found on …"

More scrutiny coming for Medicare Advantage, Obamacare

By Fred Schulte

New round of audits coming; Obamacare too.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Government":

"… hed up just $157,777 to settle the matter in December 2013, for instance. Government officials aren’t sure how much of the suspected overpayments to Medicare …"

Another whistleblower suit alleges Medicare Advantage fraud

By Fred Schulte

California litigation alleges 'house calls" yielded false claims

Excerpts from this story referencing "New York":

"… roblems with in-home health visits to Medicare Advantage patients in Ohio, New York, California, Texas, Oregon and Virginia.   The four health plans “t …"

Comparison shopping for a health plan

By Wendell Potter

California makes it easy to do your homework.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… om a private insurer unless we’re eligible for a government program like Medicare or Medicaid — you’d think it would be easy to discover which health pl …"

A call for more scrutiny of private Medicare Advantage plans

By Fred Schulte

Researchers say aggressive billing by private plans may require more scrutiny

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicaid":

"… nter for Public Integrity. Kronick said that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the arm of HHS that oversees Medicare Advantage, had proposed as …"

Obamacare helps millions, but falls short in many ways

By Wendell Potter

The Affordable Care Act has reduced the ranks of the uninsured, but cost of care must be addressed.

New types of health care delivery are improving the 'patient experience'

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: eliminating role of insurers could improve health care delivery.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… ederal government works with insurers in the same way to handle claims for Medicare beneficiaries. Gifford also told me he’s in discussions with a number o …"

"… ompanies, to some extent. And he noted that government entities, including Medicare and state governments, are following a similar path. It’s a path that l …"

"… ey Peninsula in California, which earlier this year began offering its own Medicare Advantage plan to serve area seniors through a subsidiary called Aspire. …"

Health insurers turning into who knows what?

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: health insurers are transforming themselves — but into what?

Excerpts from this story referencing "UnitedHealth Group":

"… e than 30 countries in which we operate around the world.” According to UnitedHealth Group’s website, it is “the most diversified health care company in the Unit …"

Black lung disease surges to highs not seen since the '70s, research shows

By Chris Hamby

The likely culprit: a failure by coal mining companies to use readily available tools to control the dust that lodges in miners' lungs.

Excerpts from this story referencing "BuzzFeed":

"… had not yet had the opportunity to review the findings in detail, but told BuzzFeed News that “our industry continues its efforts to control coal dust to im …"

"… Chris Hamby, a former Center for Public Integrity reporter, now works for BuzzFeed. …"

Taking insurance companies out of health care

By Wendell Potter

If Boeing experiment flies, health care system could be transformed.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Insurance":

"… nt flies.  Wendell Potter is the author of Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and …"

Docs, drug companies, insurers drive up Medicare costs

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: reform drove down hospital costs, creating Medicare savings, but insurers, doctors and drug companies escaped cuts.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… ated 78 million baby boomers in this country, I was delighted to hear that Medicare’s Hospital Trust Fund won’t run out of money until 2030 — 13 ye …"

"… attributed to the health care law, some of the provisions aimed at slowing Medicare spending, such as requiring Medicare to reduce payments to hospitals with …"

"… me of the provisions aimed at slowing Medicare spending, such as requiring Medicare to reduce payments to hospitals with high readmission rates, are likely he …"

"… elping. But the Hospital Trust Fund accounts for only about half of total Medicare spending. Most of the rest goes to cover physician fees, prescription drug …"

Dire predictions of endless waits for a doctor have proven unfounded

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: Obamacare has not resulted in long waits for a doctor.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… says, if rather then repealing Obamacare, Congress would lift a freeze in Medicare’s support for physician-training positions that has been in effect since …"

How Medicare Advantage plans code for cash

By Fred Schulte

Federal study criticizes Medicare Advantage and calls for changes.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Florida":

"… some plans than others. Holly J. Cassano, a medical coding consultant in Florida, said that the government’s decision to make the billing data public was …"

Critic of artificial sweeteners pilloried by industry-backed scientists

By Chris Young

Any criticism of the artificial sweetener industry is met with a barrage of criticism, often from questionable sources.

Excerpts from this story referencing "American Beverage Association":

"… e “opinion” tag, the food and beverage industry responded quickly. The American Beverage Association, for example, dismissed the paper’s findings, arguing that it was “not …"

"… did not mention to viewers that the study was funded entirely by the American Beverage Association and that two of the study’s authors received consulting fees from C …"

"… e associations, including the International Sweeteners Association and the American Beverage Association, the Council does not publicly list its members. Nor does its website reve …"

Black lung claims by 1,100 coal miners may have been wrongly denied

By Chris Hamby

Black lung opinions by Dr. Paul Wheeler of Johns Hopkins should be assumed to lack credibility, senators are told at a hearing.

Excerpts from this story referencing "energy":

"… staffer said.   "We often talk about how coal produces the cheapest energy in this country," Harkin, whose father had black lung, said during the hea …"

Families sick from fracking turn to scientists

By Lisa Song

A Pennsylvania nonprofit provides free health consultations to people who live near gas drilling sites and complain of health effects.

Excerpts from this story referencing "chemicals":

"… aches, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms have been linked to some of the chemicals emitted during shale development, including formaldehyde, particulate matt …"

Even low doses of arsenic trigger cancer in mice, study finds

By David Heath

Study by the National Institutes of Health found levels of arsenic similar to what some people consume caused cancer in mice.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Environmental Protection Agency":

"… rs in history. Extrapolating from those studies, scientists with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have tentatively concluded that arsenic is a serious problem at low doses. …"

What to do if your drinking water contains arsenic

By David Heath

Millions of Americans unwittingly consume arsenic, a potent carcinogen also linked to IQ deficits in children, in their drinking water.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Water":

"… risk-management decision that was made by U.S. EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act that takes into account the health effects but also the cost of mitiga …"

Praise for UK-style health system vindicates spurned nominee

By Wendell Potter

Former Medicare chief's support for UK's health care system may win votes in race for governor of Massachusetts.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… dely respected physician and health policy expert, to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Despite having broad support among other heal …"

Home is where the money is for Medicare Advantage plans

By Fred Schulte

Medicare Advantage home visits may not improve health, but boost risk scores and cost taxpayers billions.

Excerpts from this story referencing "official":

"… including Google Ventures. The cottage industry is flourishing as federal officials struggle to prevent Medicare Advantage plans from overcharging the govern …"

"… based on inflated risk scores, according to government estimates. Federal officials last year suggested that home visits might play a role. They said they we …"

"… al of nearly half-a-million senior home visits in 2013. In April, though, officials bowed to industry pressure and backed off their earlier proposal to restr …"

"… health care for millions of Americans under the Affordable Care Act, which officials expect to contain costs. Behind the curtain The federal government pays …"

Health insurers have their way with regulators

By Fred Schulte

Billions in Medicare Advantage overpayments likely gone for good.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Government":

"… are accurate. James Cosgrove, who directs the health care division of the Government Accountability Office, the watchdog arm of Congress, said that federal hea …"

Labor Department issues warning about Hopkins doctor's findings on black lung claims

The U.S. Department of Labor warned its officials to view with skepticism any X-ray readings by Dr. Paul Wheeler of Johns Hopkins.

Why Medicare Advantage costs taxpayers billions more than it should

By Fred Schulte, David Donald and Erin Durkin

Critics warned of billing abuse in Medicare Advantage health plans, but oversight is lagging.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicaid":

"… vantage has faced much less scrutiny. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services didn’t try to recoup overpayments until 2012, eight years after …"

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