Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New and Expanded Medicare Programs


Beginning in early 2016, Medicare has announced several new and expanded programs which could benefit millions of Americans.  This information is based on a longer article by Deb Jones, "Changes in Medicare for 2016 Include Expansion of Coordinated Care."  Readers can find links to the full article at the end of this post.

First, however, you will find an introduction to the 2016 changes.  If you need more information, you are encouraged to check out the full article which was originally published in The Daily Voice News.

The first change will be an increase in the number of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).  Medicare has been experimenting with this approach for several years and discovered that it has improved outcomes and saves money ... certainly the direction we all want to see Medicare going.  This new type of coordinated care will be expanded to include over 20 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries.

In the second change, Medicare has agreed to pay doctors to discuss Advance Directives with their patients.  This will allow people to have an in-depth discussion with their physician about end-of-life decisions.  In my personal experience, my HMO has classes to help patients go through their Advance Directive so they can decide for themselves what type of care they want at the end of their life, should they not be able to communicate their wishes when they are near death.  Advance Directives take pressure off family members who do not want to be responsible for making these final decisions.  In addition, Advance Directives allow people to think about and convey their wishes long before the time comes.

The third Medicare change would allow more people to receive some types of curative treatments while they are in hospice care.  Currently, patients cannot be in hospice care and undergoing any curative treatments other than palliative care, which is only intended to keep the patient comfortable during the last weeks or months of their life. This trial program is still in an experimental stage and may not be available in all locations.

Finally, Medicare is initiating a trial of a 90-day comprehensive treatment program for people undergoing joint replacement surgeries


Below is the introduction to a more detailed article about these Medicare changes.  For more information about any of the programs mentioned above, click on the title of the article or use the link below the Table of Contents:

"Changes in Medicare for 2016 Include Expansion of Coordinated Care"

As Medicare in the United States begins its 51st year, there are a number of changes of interest regarding Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), counseling regarding end-of-life decisions and trial changes in areas such as hospice care and joint replacements.

1. Coordinated Care Expands to Encompass More than 20 Percent of all Medicare Beneficiaries
2. Medicare to Pay for Annual Voluntary Advance Directive Consultations
3. Medicare Begins Evaluating Hospice Care that Includes Curative Services

4. Medicare to Evaluate Trial of 90-Day Care for Joint Replacement Surgeries
The above intro was re-printed by permission from the author.  Read the full article at:


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