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Medicare's annual wellness visits get strong start

DecisionHealth stock photoThe new annual wellness visits for seniors received acclaim on Capitol Hill Wednesday and its success could mean a revenue boost for your practice.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) boasted of the Medicare program’s success and potential overall cost reduction in a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the progress of new benefits and programs enacted by The Affordable Care Act, according to a media release.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the Committee on Finance that nearly 152,000 seniors have had annual wellness visits in the first eight weeks of the Medicare program. That means CMS has paid almost $25 million to private practices and outpatient facilities for the new benefit.
“Clearly, seniors recognize that a visit to the doctor for free preventive tests, screenings and tips on how to better manage, or even avoid, chronic conditions helps them maintain healthy lives,” said Baucus, who is the Committee chairman.
The annual wellness visit program, which started Jan. 1, was designed as a preventative tool to stave off chronic illnesses, provide free tests and screenings and improve overall health.
“This focus on prevention not only leads to better health outcomes, it also allows seniors – and their doctors – to catch conditions before they become serious and costly, which saves Medicare dollars,” Baucus said.

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