Medicare Adds New Online Tools to Help Health Care Consumers

Tools Needed to Sift Through Piles of Medical InformationThe U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), announced on Friday that they have launched new online tools for patients and caregivers to “empower consumers to make informed choices about their health care,” as well as other initiatives to improve the quality of care “in America’s hospitals, nursing homes, physician offices, and other health care settings.”

The tools and initiatives announced on August 5 include:

  • A Quality Care Finder to provide consumers with one online destination to access all of Medicare’s Compare tools — including comparison information on hospitals, nursing homes, home health care, dialysis facilities, physicians, and health insurance plans, at: www.Medicare.gov/QualityCareFinder.
  • An updated Hospital Compare website, which now includes data about how well hospitals protect outpatients from surgical infections and whether hospitals care for outpatients who are treated for  suspected heart attacks with proven therapies that reduce death, at:  www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov and
  • An enhanced Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) program under which QIOs provide technical assistance and resources to health care providers across the country to assist them in changing how care is delivered in hospitals, nursing homes, physician offices, and across care settings.” More information on this program is on CMS’ website at: www.cms.gov/qualityimprovementorgs

“These tools are new ways CMS is making sure consumers have information about health care quality and important information they need to make the best decisions about where to receive high-quality care,” said Dr. Don Berwick, the CMS Administrator. “These efforts are designed to also encourage providers to deliver safe, patient-centered care that consumers can rely on and will motivate improvement across our health care system.”

CMS also announced updated data for outcomes of inpatient hospital care on Hospital Compare.  This update included new 30-day mortality rates and 30-day readmissions rates for inpatients admitted with heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia.  These rates are based upon three full years of claims data (from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2010).

CMS stated that “This year, the national 30-day mortality rates for heart attack have continued to decline, falling by 0.3 percent from the 2006 through 2009 rate of 16.2 percent to the more recent 2007 through 2010 rate of 15.9 percent.  Mortality rates for heart failure and pneumonia increased slightly over the same period, showing an increase from 11.2 to 11.3 percent for heart failure and 11.6 to 11.9 percent for pneumonia, respectively.”

More Information

For additional Information relating to the CMS announcement of August 5, 2011, see the following Fact Sheets provided by CMS:

Hospital Compare Fact Sheet

Quality Finder Fact Sheet

QIO Launch Fact Sheet

See other finder tools provided by HelpingYouCare™ in our CareHelpFinder™ – Locator, Search & Directory Tools.

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Copyright © 2011 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare™.

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3 comments to Medicare Adds New Online Tools to Help Health Care Consumers

  • Don Vogler

    My Mother, Lillie Belle Vogler, is covered by Medicare and has AARP as her supplement. She is 86 years of age, and is about to be discharged from an Assisted Living Facility (The Hampton/Pinegate – Houston, TX), and will be returning home: 901 Lehman Rd. – Houston, TX 77018.
    She is under the impression that Medicare are AARP will pay a daily amount for home health assistance, and she was under the impression that it was $35/day. Can you please advise me on how she can apply for these benefits, because she will have someone start working for her on Saturday 8/13/11 on a daily basis until she gets strong enough to be functional home alone.
    Thanks for your assistance.
    Don Vogler
    832-797-5763

  • Editor

    Hi Don,

    The first thing you should do is ask the Assisted Living Facility to help you review your Mother’s situation and advise you, and you should also present your Mother’s Medicare Card and her Supplementary Insurance card to the home health care agency that will provide the home health care services for your Mother, and ask them to set up the billing of Medicare (if applicable) and your Mother’s supplementary insurance company for the home health care services. Normally that is handled as part of the intake process with a home health care agency.

    For Medicare coverage to apply, you may need to get a prescription for home health care, including skilled care (assuming that is needed), from your Mother’s Doctor. This prescription may also be helpful for your Mother’s private insurance company.

    If your Mother was actually in the “assisted living facility” as a rehabilitation facility after discharge from a hospital, and she was in the hospital at least three nights, then there should be some Medicare coverage for home health care, as least as long as your Mother needs “skilled care” at home. The hospital social worker, rehab facility, and home health care agency should help you determine if Medicare coverage will apply and get it set up for Medicare, if applicable.

    For more information on Medicare coverage of Home Health Care, see Medicare.gov – Medicare & Home Health Care. This applies if your Mother is on Original Medicare (not Medicare Advantage). If she is on Medicare Advantage, look at her Medicare Advantage card, and call the number for information.

    You have indicated that your Mother has a supplemental insurance policy that she obtained through AARP. She may have supplementary or primary coverage for home health care under this policy. Or, if it is a long-term care policy, it may provide coverage for home health care. As I mentioned above, you should present your Mother’s supplemental insurance card, as well as her Medicare card, to the home health care agency that will provide the services for your Mother, and they should help you bill the insurance.

    If you are not working with a home health care agency, or if you have further questions about coverage, you could call the customer service number reflected on your Mother’s insurance card for her supplementary insurance policy. You should also read her policy to determine the extent of her coverage.

    Hope this helps! Take care,
    Connie

  • Ruby

    thanks for sharing it.

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