Top stories in health and medicine, January 23, 2013

This series is brought to you by MedPage Today.

1. ER Visits Common After Hospital Stay. Nearly one-fifth of hospital patients returned for acute care within 30 days of discharge, with emergency room (ER) visits accounting for 40% of those encounters.

2. PET Scan Spots Brain Trauma in Ex-Athletes While Alive. A new imaging technique has allowed detection of tau protein abnormalities in the concussed brains of living retired football players that are identical to the autopsy findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in deceased athletes.

3. SGR Repeal to Get Hard Look in New Congress. Repealing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for physician reimbursement under Medicare will likely be a high priority for the new leader of a key congressional health subcommittee.

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  • cynholt

    It would be a lot easier and a lot less painful, as well as a lot less costly, for everyone involved if Medicare would simply reduce Medicare reimbursements across the board or make across-the-board cuts to the Medicare budget, instead of requiring hospitals to jump through very costly and rigorous hoops (which often times leads to gaming the system, or even borderline fraud) in order to prevent from being slapped with millions of dollars in penalties for not preventing re-admissions, which are totally impossible to prevent in the first place.

    Apparently the good folks at Medicare don’t understand that
    hospitals are gonna be saddled with an enormous amount of overhead and administrative costs just to track and monitor patients who are at high risk for being readmitted within a 30 day time frame and then to do everything in their power, both in terms of going full throttle on clinical and managerial intervention, to prevent them from being re-admitted. But I think the Medicare folks are too smart NOT to understand this.

    So, what I think is REALLY going on here is that the Medicare folks don’t want to come across as the big, bad hatch-swinging villains, who are out to pull the plug on Grandma. Instead of doing the easiest, least painful and least costly thing for everyone involved, which is to simply reduce Medicare reimbursements across the board or make across-the-board cuts to the Medicare budget, the Medicare folks are setting hospitals up to be viewed as incompetent failures in the eyes of the public, which gets themselves off the hook for being the big, bad hatch-swinging villains, who are out to pull the plug on Grandma!

    It bears repeating: Our biggest problem in healthcare isn’t lack of quality, it’s lack of cost constraints. The folks at Medicare just don’t want to admit this.

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