MASSDEVICE ON CALL — When likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tapped Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate, it put Medicare front and center in the campaign for the White House.
That’s because of Ryan’s ambitious budget proposal and its implications for Medicare, the government insurance program for the elderly and disabled. Ryan’s proposals have won approval twice in the U.S. House of Representatives but were stymied in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Should the Romney/Ryan ticket find favor with voters in November, it could mean drastic changes for Medicare. Here’s a look at what might be in store:
- Free-market shift: Medicare enrollees would get a fixed amount each year to spend on a health plan, public or private, from an exchange of competing plans, according to Kaiser Health News.
- Eligibility age increase: By 2034, Ryan would raise the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67. (Ryan’s proposal would apply only to future Medicare enrollees who are now under age 55 – current and prospective enrollees would get Medicare as-is.)
- Spending cap: Medicare spending increases would be capped 0.5% above the gross domestic product, pegging spending increases to the U.S. economy.
Can soothing tones help vets’ tinnitus?
Could a medical device help treat tinnitus? U.S. military members with the hearing condition are about to find out, thanks to a deal between the Veteran’s Affairs Dept. and SoundCure Inc., which makes the Serenade device. It’s designed to deliver soft, modulated tones to "provide relief to patients at volumes softer than the patient’s tinnitus to reduce, rather than add to, the patient’s sound burden," according to a press release.
Medicare to ding 2,200 hospitals $280M on readmission rates
More than 2,200 hospitals are set for some $280 million in forfeited Medicare funds starting in October because their readmission rates are too high. Nearly 20% of Medicare patients are readmitted within a month, but lowering readmission rates is harder than it sounds, as evidenced by some of the high-profile hospitals on the list and their concerted – and expensive – efforts to curb the trend.
Edwards Lifesciences Fund drops $1.2M on AHA program
The Edwards Lifesciences Fund is giving $1.2 million to the American Heart Assn. for an educational website on heart valve disease in a "donor-advised" fund that aims to create the portal over the next 4 years.
Study: Higher trauma spend doesn’t improve survival rate
Although they spent a third more than their counterparts on the East Coast, trauma survival rates in western states were the same, according to a review of data from 62,678 trauma cases.