Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Medicare / 02.03.2015

Ann M. Sheehy, M.D., M.S. Associate Professor Division Head, Hospital Medicine University of Wisconsin Department of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ann M. Sheehy, M.D., M.S. Associate Professor Division Head, Hospital Medicine University of Wisconsin Department of Medicine MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Sheehy: Outpatient (observation) and inpatient status determinations are important for hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries. The Recovery Audit program, more commonly known as the RACs (Recovery Audit Contractors), is charged with surveillance and enforcement of such status determinations. Surveillance in the Medicare program is necessary, and Medicare fraud and abuse should not be tolerated. However, there are increasing concerns regarding RAC accuracy, auditor financial incentives, and the volume of audits and overpayment determinations auditors allege. We therefore studied Complex Medicare Part A RAC audits at 3 academic medical centers, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Utah, and Johns Hopkins, to determine the impact and trends of such audits. There was a nearly 300% increase in RAC overpayment determinations in just 2 years at the study hospitals. Each year, the hospitals won a greater percent of contested cases, winning 68.0% of cases with decisions in 2013. Two-thirds of all favorable decisions for the hospitals occurred in the discussion period. Because discussion is not considered part of the formal appeals process, this is omitted from reports of RAC accuracy. None of the overpayment determinations contested the need for the care delivered, rather contested the billing location, outpatient or inpatient. The hospitals averaged 5 FTE each to manage the audit and appeals process. Claims still in appeals had been in process for a mean of 555 days without decisions.
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Medicare, Mental Health Research, Pharmacology / 16.01.2015

Dr. Jeanne Madden PhD Instructor, Department of Population Medicine Harvard Medical SchoolMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Jeanne Madden PhD Instructor, Department of Population Medicine Harvard Medical School   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Madden: When Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage started in 2006, many experts voiced concerns about disabled patients with serious mental illness making the transition from state Medicaid coverage to Medicare.  Our study is one of the first to examine the impact of the transition in mentally ill populations.  People living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are at high risk of relapse and hospitalization and are especially vulnerable to disruptions in access to their treatments. We found that the effects of transitioning from Medicaid to Medicare Part D depended on where patients lived.  Transition to Part D in states that put limits on Medicaid drug coverage resulted in fewer patients going without treatment. By contrast, in states with more generous drug coverage, we saw reductions in use, of antipsychotics in particular, after patients shifted to Medicare Part D.  This may have been due to new cost controls used within many private Medicare drug plans.  Given that most states in the US are in this latter category, with the relatively generous Medicaid drug coverage, we also found reductions in antipsychotic use nation-wide. Although a very large group of people made that transition from Medicaid to Medicare in 2006, thousands more still transition every year because when disabled people qualify for Medicare, they must wait 2 years for their benefits kick in.  Also, many other disabled patients are on Medicaid only and don’t qualify for Medicare.  They are of course affected by restrictions on Medicaid coverage, which vary from state to state.
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Electronic Records, Medicare, Stroke / 04.07.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with Hiraku Kumamar, MD, MPH Department of Epidemiology Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA and Soko Setoguchi-Iwata, M.D. Duke Clinical Research Institute Durham, NC 27715 Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Answer: We evaluated the accuracy of discharge diagnosis of stroke in the Medicare claims database by linking it to a nationwide epidemiological study cohort with 30239 participants called REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS). We found that among the 282 events captured using a strict claims definition of stroke, 91% were true events.  We also found that 12% of the overall strokes had been identified only by Medicare claims, strongly supporting the use of these readily available data for event follow-up in cohort studies.
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Hospital Readmissions, Medicare / 13.05.2014

Alex Blum, MD MPH FAAP Chief Medical Officer Evergreen Health, Baltimore MD 21211MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alex Blum, MD MPH FAAP Chief Medical Officer Evergreen Health, Baltimore MD 21211 MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Blum: Accounting for the social risk of patients using a measure of neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES), did not alter the hospital rankings for congestive heart failure (CHF) readmission rates.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Medicare, Race/Ethnic Diversity, University of Michigan, Weight Research / 25.09.2013

Dr. Lauren Hersch Nicholas Ph.D Research Affiliate, Population Studies Center. Faculty Research Fellow, Survey Research Center University of MichiganMedicalResearch.com Interview Invitation Dr. Lauren Hersch Nicholas Ph.D Research Affiliate, Population Studies Center. Faculty Research Fellow, Survey Research Center University of Michigan MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Nicholas: We found that a Medicare policy designed to improve the safety of bariatric surgery was associated with 17% decline in the share of Medicare patients from minority groups receiving bariatric surgery.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Medicare, Outcomes & Safety / 23.07.2013

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alai Tan, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Dept. of Preventive Medicine & Community Health Sr. Biostatistician, Sealy Center on Aging Univerisity of Texas Medical Branch 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX  77555-0177 MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Tan: The study developed and validated sex-specific Cox proportional-hazards models with predictors of age and comorbidities to predict patient life expectancy using Medicare claims data. The predictive model was well-calibrated and showed good predictive discrimination for risk of mortality between 5 and 10 years.