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AMA identifies Medicare's top regulatory burdens

Washington -- Eliminating various unfunded mandates, restoring Medicare payment for consultation services and better aligning quality incentive programs would reduce the regulatory burden placed upon physician practices, doctors say. The American Medical Association outlined these complaints and more in a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on April 13. On Jan. 18, President Obama requested input on how his administration could reduce the regulatory burden on various sectors of the U.S. economy. The AMA responded by conducting a survey in which more than 2,000 doctors provided feedback on federal rules that they said increase administrative costs at their practices and interfere with patient care. The AMA's nine-page letter requests relief from unfunded mandates in the Medicare program. "While these requirements generally have laudable goals, costs frequently exceed benefits and are simply unrealistic in a program which fails to recognize the cost of practic ...

Medicare ordered to pay for off-label drugs

Washington -- A federal judge has ruled that the Medicare program must cover off-label use of drugs when treatment is medically necessary, even when the use is not described in an official medical compendium. The March 7 ruling settles a 2007 lawsuit filed by the Medicare Rights Center in New York against the Dept. of Health and Human Services on behalf of two Medicare patients, Judith M. Layzer, who since has died of ovarian cancer, and Ray J. Fischer, who has muscular dystrophy. "This is a victory for our plaintiffs and sets an important precedent for all people with Medicare," said Joe Baker, the center's president. "Since the start of the Medicare drug benefit, the Medicare Rights Center has received calls from consumers who have struggled to obtain coverage of off-label, medically necessary drugs. This ruling brings us closer to removing a sizable obstacle to coverage of these drugs." In Layzer's case, Cetrotide (cetrorelix acetate), which is used to prevent premature ovu ...

Patients say they would pay more quickly with online access

Patients suggest that if physicians want to improve their collections, they should provide online access. An Intuit Health survey found that patients often are late in paying not because they don't have the money, but because they are confused about their bills. The survey said e-mailing questions and paying online would correct the delay quickly. This would reduce the administrative costs physicians run up by sending multiple mailings to collect one bill, said Warwick Charlton, MD, vice president and chief medical officer for Intuit Health. "Even though there's anxiety about the total costs that they face in health care, the availability of online payment as an option is something that many of them would use," Dr. Charlton said. "And I think that's because it helps their sense of control and visibility and probably ties more directly back to the event" they are paying for. 70% concerned about bills The Intuit Health Second Annual Health Care Check-up Survey of 1,000 American ...