Medicare to start paying doctors to administer better care

Medicare will now issue a monthly fee to primary care doctors with the intention to provide better care to seniors who need it most, reported the Associated Press.

About two-thirds of Medicare recipients have two or more chronic conditions, and multiple doctors typically treat their different ailments. To avoid pricey visits, Medicare wants to promote better care coordination to best serve its beneficiaries.

Doctors will have to earn the fee of $40 a month per qualified patient: They need to make a care plan, spend time on coordinating their patients' care and ensure their patients can reach someone 24/7 in case they need to access their medical records, noted the AP.

"We're hoping to spur change, getting physicians to be much more willing to spend time working on the needs of these patients without necessitating the patient to come into the office," Sean Cavanaugh, deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, told the AP.

With this extra fee, doctors may be more inclined to hire extra nurses who can do more preventive care work, noted the article.

Hiring extra staff may come in handy, especially since Medicare Advantage enrollment increased by 4.6 million (41 percent) during the past year, despite worries that Affordable Care Act-related payment changes would shrink the program's membership.

Medicare has been searching for ways to not only save money but to also improve the quality of care, according to the AP. The new physician fee program is a step in that direction.

For more:
- here's the AP article