Primary care doctors who treat traditional Medicare patients are getting a small break: They can get paid for one office visit with each Medicare patient per year during which the only test that must be administered is a blood pressure test.
But, to qualify for the payment, from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), doctors must do what they can to counsel the patients to avoid cardiovascular disease.
CMS is putting the heart disease counseling session benefit in the package of preventive services added to Medicare by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
CMS wants the primary care providers who conduct the sessions to screen adults ages 18 years and older for high blood pressure and engage in “intensive behavioral counseling” to persuade patients to eat better and avoid dietary choices that contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and, potentially, debilitating chronic diseases.
For men ages 45 to 79 and women ages 55 to 79 who are good candidates for using aspirin as a preventive measure, the providers are supposed to recommend use of aspirin.
For the provider to be paid for the session, the Medicare patient must be “competent and alert at the time that counseling is provided” and the advice must be provided “in a primary care setting.”
“Emergency departments, inpatient hospital settings, ambulatory surgical centers, independent diagnostic testing facilities, skilled nursing facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities and hospices are not considered primary care settings under this definition,” officials say in a CMS cardiovascular disease counseling coverage decision summary.
NONE OF YOUR – AND, THEY MEAN, YOUR — BUSINESS
For consumers, one of the goals of digital health information privacy rules is keeping information about medical care they pay for out of pocket out of the hands of insurance companies.
Deven McGraw, director of the health privacy project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, Washington, talked about that concern today in Washington during a health information privacy hearing organized by the privacy subcommittee at the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In 2006, 80% of Americans who participated in a survey about online health information said they were worried about identity theft and fraud, and 77% said they were very concerned about their medical information being used for marketing purposes.