medicare

It can be hard to quantify the problem of elder abuse. Experts believe that many cases go unreported. And Wednesday morning, their belief was confirmed by two new government studies.

The research, conducted and published by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, finds that in many cases of abuse or neglect severe enough to require medical attention, the incidents have not been reported to enforcement agencies, though that's required by law.

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday said they dismantled one of the largest health care fraud schemes ever investigated by the FBI, charging 24 people in a $1.2 billion alleged scam involving telemedicine and durable medical equipment companies.

Federal prosecutors late Tuesday charged British drugmaker Indivior with felony fraud and conspiracy for its marketing of opioid products including Suboxone. The company allegedly created a "nationwide scheme" in the U.S. designed to convince doctors and government insurance providers that Indivior's patented opioid medications are safer and less prone to abuse than cheaper generic alternatives.

A key initiative of the Affordable Care Act was a program designed to help control soaring Medicare costs by encouraging doctors and hospitals to work together to coordinate patients' care. This led to the formation of what are known as accountable care organizations or ACOs.

The program was expected to save the government nearly $5 billion by 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

It hasn't come anywhere close.

We all hope for a little peace at the end of life, for ourselves and for our loved ones. Hospice services can play a big role, relieving pain and providing spiritual and emotional support. But a federal report published Tuesday synthesized patient and Medicare payment data going back to 2005 and found that, while patients generally can count on hospice to relieve their suffering, some hospice providers are bilking Medicare and neglecting patients.

For people who buy health insurance through the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, the 2018 open enrollment period begins in one week. But many consumers are confused about what to expect. No wonder.

WBFO's Mike Desmond

Buffalo Public Schools are chipping away at the vast costs of health insurance for current employees and retirees, saving millions of dollars.

New York State

The Trump Administration is cutting funding to programs that promote the Affordable Care Act – by a lot. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a statement detailing major changes to budgets for advertising and grants to nonprofits that employ navigators to help people sign up for plans.

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Around 600 people turned out on Thursday evening for a town hall meeting with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in Buffalo State's Rockwell Hall. The large audience appeared to agree with her on most issues.


More than one-quarter of serious cases of nursing home abuse are not reported to the police, according to an alert released Monday morning by the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services.

WBFO File Photo / WBFO News

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is urging the state Department of Health to adjust its review and oversight systems after more than $16 million in questionable payments were found during a recent audit.

The House budget plan would slash spending by $5.4 trillion over 10 years, including more than $4 trillion in cuts to mandatory spending like Medicaid and Medicare, while ramping up defense spending.

Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET

The defeat of the GOP Senate health care bill is a major blow to all Republicans involved.

President Trump, whose approval rating is lower than any recent president this early in his term, is now staring at an agenda imperiled. Despite his boasts, he has achieved little of significance through Congress. That failure is compounded by the fact that his party controls both chambers.

National Publiuc Radio

Both Republicans and Democrats are saying the Senate health care bill will not pass, even if an actual vote is delayed longer. WBFO talked with Congressman Brian Higgins, who said it is time to look beyond the plan for something new.

Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

The health care bill unveiled in the U.S. Senate Friday retains provisions that relate to New York's Medicaid program.

Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare. The long-awaited plan marks a big step toward achieving one of the Republican Party's major goals.

Major insurers accused of defrauding Medicare

May 23, 2017

The complexities of billing the Medicare program may have provided cover for some major health insurers in an effort to defraud the federal government. According to a report from The New York Times, the companies may have exaggerated patient diagnoses to inflate Medicare payments by billions of dollars. Buffalo Congressman Brian Higgins decried the practice, calling it a "blatant violation of the public trust."

Almost 100 hospitals reported suspicious data on dangerous infections to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials, but the agency did not follow up or examine any of the cases in depth, according to a report by the Health and Human Services inspector general's office.

Most hospitals report how many infections strike patients during treatment, meaning the infections are likely contracted inside the facility. Each year, Medicare is supposed to review up to 200 cases in which hospitals report suspicious infection-tracking results.

Hospitals have long been reluctant to share with patients their assessments of which nursing homes are best because of a Medicare requirement that patients' choices can't be restricted.

For years, many hospitals simply have given patients a list of all the skilled nursing facilities near where they live and told them which ones have room for a new patient. Patients have rarely been told which homes have poor quality ratings from Medicare or a history of public health violations, according to researchers and patient advocates.

New York State

Federal auditors say New York improperly used as much as $150 million in grants to set up its insurance exchange under President Barack Obama's health care law and enroll people for coverage.

If you are in an auto accident, you may start worrying about paying the medical bills before you arrive at the hospital. On this week's edition of You & The Law, attorney Leonard Zaccagnino talks about how those bills are paid.

It's worth your while to understand your Medicare coverage and rehab coverage because it's not as simple as saying Medicare covers hospital stays. That's our topic on this week's edition of You & The Law, with attorney Kelly Barrett explaining the rules and the problems.


Panel examines futures of Medicare, Social Security

Nov 15, 2013

AARP held an informational session in Clarence Thursday to education citizens about the future of Medicare and Social Security. The session was held to alleviate the fears Americans may have about the programs running out of money.

WBFO News photo by Mark Leitner

Medicare was on the minds of more than a dozen seniors who sat down Tuesday with Congresswoman Kathy Hochul at the Blocher Homes on Evans Street in Williamsville. 

At least one member of the group expressed concerns  about those in congress who continually "snipe" at entitlement programs for being too costly, and that something has to be done.