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High Demand For Psychological Services Is A Healthy Sign, Australia

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) rejects claims that the higher than expected demand for psychological services under Medicare is bad news. "We have known for several years that the public demand for professional psychological help is considerably higher than was anticipated when psychological services were included in Medicare, " said APS President, Professor Bob Montgomery. "The high take up indicates just how much unmet need there has been for evidence-based psychological assistance in the Australian community. That's what our own survey has found, that many people now consulting with psychologists tell us that they couldn't afford to before the Medicare rebate was made available and they are finding it very helpful now that they can.

People With Medicare Should Act Now To Ensure Uninterrupted Drug Coverage In February, Consumer Group Advises

Every winter, millions of people with Medicare discover that their Medicare private drug plan will no longer cover a medicine they need. Consumers affected include: members of drug plans that dropped certain drugs from their list of covered drugs in 2010 or imposed new restrictions on a covered drug in the new year; consumers who switched plans but failed to check that all their medicines are covered under their new plan; and many of the one million low-income people with Medicare who were randomly reassigned to a new drug plan because their 2009 plan no longer qualified for a full premium subsidy. To help minimize the negative impact of plans' restrictions on consumers, drug plans are required to have a transition policy to ensure that new members have uninterrupted access to drug therapy that started before they joined, and that existing plan members do not face interruptions to drug therapy when their plan imposes new coverage restrictions in the new year.

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Survey: Medicaid Beats Private Insurance When It Comes To Prevention

Sen. Lamar Alexander - as well as other conservative lawmakers - characterized Medicaid as a "medical ghetto" during Senate floor speeches on the health overhaul debate last year, American Medical News reports. But, the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health contradicts that common perception. "Based on nearly 92, 000 interviews, it found that in 36 states, children in Medicaid and CHIP were as likely or more likely than privately insured kids to have had at least one preventive health care visit over a 12-month period." The program's advantage stems from the federal government requirement that "it to cover a standardized package of preventive care benefits for children called the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment program.

CBO: Stimulus More Expensive Than Expected, Medicare Costs To Double By 2020

A new Congressional Budget Office report "provides more ammunition for Republicans who say the stimulus has been long on spending and short on creating promised jobs, " The Associated Press/ABC News reports. The report says the stimulus will cost $75 billion more than expected, because of increased unemployment, requirements for the food stamp program and the high popularity of an infrastructure bonds program. The report comes as Democrats consider a second stimulus bill that could include another extension of unemployment benefits, job creation tax credits and further help for jobless people to buy health coverage (Taylor, 1/26). Medicaid spending is one of the largest parts of the stimulus package, but it proved less costly than anticipated, CNNMoney reports.

Partnership For Medicaid Urges Health Reform Efforts To Continue

The Partnership for Medicaid, a national coalition of health care, local government, and labor organizations, today applauded the work of pro-health care reform lawmakers and urged them to continue their push for comprehensive legislation. At a Capitol Hill briefing today, the Partnership for Medicaid stressed that during these tough economic times and lengthy period of high unemployment, millions more lower-income and disabled Americans depend on the Medicaid system for their health care. The non-partisan coalition - an alliance of 18 organizations representing doctors, health care providers, Medicaid-focused health plans, counties, and labor - praised Congress' recognition of the importance of Medicaid when it voted to expand the program significantly in both the House and Senate health care reform bills.

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CMS Approves Three National Organizations To Accredit Suppliers Of Advanced Imaging Services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is designating three national accreditation organizations - the American College of Radiology (ACR), the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC), and The Joint Commission (TJC) - to accredit suppliers furnishing the technical component (TC) of advanced diagnostic imaging procedures. The accreditation requirement will apply only to the suppliers furnishing the imaging services, and not to the physician's interpretation of the images. As required by the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA), all suppliers of the TC of advanced imaging will have to become accredited by an accreditation organization designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services by Jan.

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