New Chief Appointed to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
On Wednesday, July 7, President Obama appointed Dr. Donald M. Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Considered a leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care, Dr. Berwick has served as a pediatrician at Harvard Community Health Plan, and has taught health policy as a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. As president and cofounder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvements (IHI), Dr. Berwick worked to reduce hospital-acquired infections and deaths, and released standards to improve health care quality.
Dr. Berwick’s term will last only through 2011 due to his appointment during Congressional recess, which bypassed the Senate confirmation process. The post had been vacant since October 2006.
CMS, which oversees the Medicare and Medicaid programs, plays a key role in health reform implementation.
Read Joe Baker’s statement on Dr. Berwick’s appointment.
Read a profile of Dr. Berwick.
New Website Helps Consumers Navigate Health Care Options
Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services debuted a new website that offers comprehensive information on the health insurance options available to Americans. The site, www.healthcare.gov, includes sections that are tailored to the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. The site also explains how and when health reform provisions will affect consumers.
Although the website was unveiled as a fully functional tool, more features and information will be added in the coming months. Just yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services added data on care quality to Hospital Compare, a tool available through the website. The new data will help consumers evaluate the quality of outpatient and inpatient care at hospitals across the country.
Use the Hospital Compare tool.
My mother has a spinal cord injury and needs a hospital bed at home so she can safely get in and out of bed. Will her Original Medicare coverage pay for this?
— Donna (Jefferson City, Missouri)
Original Medicare covers durable medical equipment (DME), such as hospital beds, if you need it for a medical purpose for use in the home. Your doctor must fill out an order or prescription that explains why the item is medically necessary.
Once you have the doctor’s order or prescription, you can take it to any Medicare-enrolled supplier (if you get care from a home health agency, the agency will provide you with the equipment), and Medicare will pay 80 percent of its approved amount, once you’ve met your Part B deductible. You or your supplemental insurance will have to pay the balance.
Visit www.medicareinteractive.org to learn more.
The excerpt above is adapted from Dear Marci, our biweekly newsletter for consumers. Sign up for Dear Marci.
This week, the Department of Health and Human Services sent the second round of $250 rebate checks to people who entered the prescription drug coverage gap. The rebate is a result of the health reform law, which will phase out the coverage gap, also known as the doughnut hole, by 2020.
Read the Department of Health and Human Services press release.
Read Medicare Rights Center’s fact sheet on the rebate.