Medicare

Rhode Island has been given the green light for a pilot program to coordinate health care for people enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. They're known as “dual eligibles” and have to navigate two complex systems to get the care they need.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has asked a working group to come up with a way to slow health care spending in Rhode Island. It's a strategy that has showed promise in Massachusetts.

Raimondo signed an executive order to establish the Working Group for Health Care Innovation. The group’s charge is to propose a way to limit the growth in public and private health care spending. One model might be close to home. Raimondo says Massachusetts placed a cap on spending.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Medicare has proposed a new rule that would allow doctors to bill for end-of-life conversations with patients. It’s part of Care New England nurse practitioner Terry Rochon’s job to have these sometimes lengthy, delicate discussions with patients, to document the kind of care they want as a serious illness progresses. But she says making advance care planning a billable service should encourage more healthcare providers to do the same.

Brown University researchers have found that the increasing use of hospice care at the end of life has increased health care spending. That’s contrary to what experts expected.

Hospice is for patients with a terminal illness who are ready to forgo more aggressive treatments. It’s supposed to be less expensive. But Brown University researcher Pedro Gozalo says the numbers tell a different story. He found more people entering hospice, staying longer, and driving up costs. Gozalo said he supports the use of hospice care.

In 2013, the top prescribed drug for Rhode Islanders with Medicare drug plans was Omeprazole, a treatment for heart burn, ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Health care providers wrote about 190,000 prescriptions for it.

(Reminder: Medicare is the health benefit plan for people over the age of 65 or disabled adults.)

That's followed by atorvastatin calcium (brand name Lipitor), used for lowering cholesterol - prescribed to 27,000 individuals.

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