Archive for Medicare

Society for Vascular Medicine Remedies Inaccuracies in New York Times Medicare Article

Deerfield, IL (PRWEB) February 03, 2015

The Society for Vascular Medicine (http://www.vascularmed.org) read with disappointment the New York Times article, “Medicare Payments Surge for Stents to Unblock Blood Vessels in Limbs,” noting a series of inaccuracies that limit the discussion of this very important topic.

First, through the Choosing Wisely initiative (http://www.choosingwisely.org), the Society for Vascular Medicine does not warn that people typically do not need invasive treatment for peripheral artery disease (PAD). Our recommendation states, “[providers should] Refrain from percutaneous or surgical revascularization of peripheral artery stenosis in patients without claudication or critical limb ischemia,” warning against inappropriate use in patients who do not have leg symptoms.

Second, the article decries the surge in vascular procedures, focusing on peripheral artery interventions. However, as the figure in the article clearly shows, artery interventions have been relatively stable since 2006. As noted in the figure, vein interventions have more than doubled over this time period, but warrant scant attention in this article.

Third, the article underestimates significantly the prevalence of PAD in the United States. The best estimates suggests that 1 in 5 men and 1 in 6 women has peripheral artery disease in the Medicare population (patients 65 years or older) (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14709362). This misconception prevents physicians and patients from getting life saving care: patients with PAD have a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular death.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, the article notes twice that most PAD patients can be treated with exercise alone. Unfortunately, despite extensive clinical evidence that exercise training improves leg symptoms for patients with PAD and is cost effective compared to intervention, Medicare does not cover supervised exercise programs for PAD as it does for heart and lung disease. The prescription for exercise without supervision has been shown to fail time and again. Unfortunately, because of the lack of Medicare coverage for supervised exercise therapy, most PAD patients do not have access to the safest and most cost effective therapies for this disease. The failure of Medicare to pay for inexpensive, effective exercise therapy, while being willing to pay for expensive interventional therapy, warrants further discussion.

The Society for Vascular Medicine strongly endorses the appropriate use of therapies to improve the quality and length of life for patients with vascular disease. We decry inappropriate use of any therapy and have an ongoing commitment to improving the lives of our patients, as well as better understanding of vascular disease. We believe that there is both overuse and underuse of medical and invasive therapies, but the misinterpretation of information only hinders progress towards improving the lives of our patients.

For more information contact SVM Executive Director Lee Ann Clark at lclark(at)vascularmed(dot)org or call 847-480-2961, Ext. 220.

The Society for Vascular Medicine is a professional organization founded in 1989 to improve the integration of vascular biological advances into medical practice, and to maintain high standards of clinical vascular medicine. The Society is distinguished by its emphasis on clinical approaches to vascular disorders. Learn more at http://www.vascularmed.org.







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WellCare Rebrands Its Windsor Medicare Advantage Plans


Tampa, Fla. (PRWEB) November 10, 2014

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG) announced today that the Medicare Advantage (MA) plans previously offered by Windsor Health Group, Inc. have been rebranded as WellCare MA plans for the 2015 Open Enrollment Period (OEP). WellCare completed the acquisition of Windsor Health Group on Jan. 1, 2014.

During OEP, which ends on Dec. 7, Medicare-eligible individuals in Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee will be able to select WellCare MA plans that are specifically designed to meet the needs of cost-conscious seniors. Some plans offer a $ 0 premium combined with benefits that go beyond original Medicare, including a 24-hour nurse advice line, dental, vision, hearing, transportation, fitness and over-the-counter benefits. Additionally, there are new plans being made available in select counties, such as premium give-back plans, to bring more choices to Medicare beneficiaries. With WellCare’s expertise in serving millions of Medicaid members, some of these plans are good options for Medicare beneficiaries who are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.

WellCare’s Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plan members can fill their prescriptions at any of the more than 60,000 WellCare network pharmacies nationwide. Starting in 2015, WellCare also helps its MAPD members save on their medications by offering preferred cost sharing at certain network pharmacies. These pharmacies include Duane Reade, H-E-B, Kmart, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Walgreens and Walmart. Members who select mail-order pharmacy service, available through CVS Caremark, will have $ 0 co-pays for their preferred generic (Tier 1) medications and significant savings on many other prescriptions.

“WellCare is committed to understanding the health and social service needs of all of our members and to providing them with access to quality care and services,” said Kelly Munson, region president, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. “We are excited to bring WellCare’s MA plans to new communities and to further our work to help our members lead better, healthier lives.”

“WellCare works to deliver benefits and services in a way that enhances our members’ health and quality of life,” said Dave Shafer, state president, South Carolina. “We are pleased to be able to offer new options to value-conscious seniors in South Carolina.”

Across the country, WellCare MA plans are available to more than 19 million Medicare-eligible residents in 402 counties. As of Sept. 30, 2014, WellCare serves approximately 371,000 MA members nationwide.

For information on becoming a WellCare member, or to learn more about the company’s plans and services, please visit http://www.wellcare.com or call 1-877-891-3262 (TTY/TDD 711) Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

About WellCare Health Plans, Inc.

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. provides managed care services targeted to government-sponsored health care programs, focusing on Medicaid and Medicare. Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., WellCare offers a variety of health plans for families, children, and the aged, blind, and disabled, as well as prescription drug plans. The company serves approximately 4 million members nationwide as of Sept. 30, 2014. For more information about WellCare, please visit the company’s website at http://www.wellcare.com or view the company’s videos at http://youtu.be/tWeMyxFaxgE.