Health Highlights: July 23, 2015

Health Highlights: July 23, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Medicare Lost $60 Billion to Fraud, Waste, Improper Payments: Report

More than 10 percent, or $60 billion, of Medicare’s total budget was lost to waste, abuse, fraud and improper payments last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) says.

“This is money that costs the Medicare trust fund real money,” Sen. Tom Carper, (D-Del.) told ABC News. “We pay into the Medicare trust fund, those of us who are working, our employers pay into the Medicare trust fund,” added Carper, who asked the GAO look into the issue.

The GAO report released Wednesday to Congress follows three previous reports that show “a persistent weakness … that increased the risk of enrolling entities intent on defrauding the Medicare program.”

One of the main issues is there are about 23,400 potentially fake or bad addresses on Medicare’s list of health providers, the GAO says. Those addresses are supposed to be clinics, hospitals or doctor’s offices, but instead are vacant lots, mailbox shops or hamburger stands, ABC News reported.


New Medicare Program for Dying Patients Blends Hospice and Medical Care

A new program that blends hospice care and medical treatment for dying patients has been introduced by Medicare.

Until now, older Americans close to death have had to choose between continuing with medical care or switching to hospice care, which focuses on making them more comfortable in their last days, The New York Times reported.

Under the Medicare pilot program, patients with terminal illnesses will be able to receive hospice care to manage suffering and help them with end-of-life planning, while also seeing doctors and getting medical treatments such as chemotherapy.

About 150,000 patients are expected to use the new program over the next four years, The Times reported.