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Primary care providers will get additional revenue opportunities soon thanks to new Medicare coverage determinations for alcohol misuse and depression, CMS announced in a press release Oct. 14. Medicare will cover screening for alcohol misuse and behavioral counseling for those found to be misusing alcohol. Depression screening will be covered for primary care practices that have “staff resources to follow up” with treatments and referrals, the agency said.

Get ready for an influx of new Medicare beneficiaries as the Medicare Open Enrollment Period starts. This year, the period begins earlier on Oct. 15 and will last seven weeks, through Dec. 7. A major new wrinkle this year are CMS-published star ratings for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. “This year CMS is highlighting plans that have achieved an overall quality rating of 5 stars with a high performer or ‘gold star’ icon so people with Medicare can easily find high quality plans,” the agency said in an Oct. 12 press release.

DecisionHealth stock imageYour providers' performance, based on Medicare claims data for Parts A, B and D of program, will be shared with the public under a new proposed rule from CMS. Certain "qualified entities" would process the Medicare data, along with private payer data, to create public reports. This new initiative, which was made possible by the health reform law, would be similar in principle to the Hospital Compare website, CMS says in a June press release.

Image from cms.hhs.govCMS's push for you and your peers to adopt electronic health record (EHR) systems by 2016 has a passionate advocate in Administrator Donald Berwick, MD, a former pediatrician appointed by the Obama administration. Dr. Berwick, who is generally well regarded in the physician community, appears in a four-minute YouTube video released last week to make a personal case for EHR adoption. Dr. Berwick describes the benefits of an EHR from his clinical perspective, and tells an interesting anecdote of treating an autistic native American child in a remote reservation.


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