Editor’s Picks: $35 Billion in Medicare Spending, Overtime Ruling Appeal

With Congress in session, President-elect Trump making important picks for his incoming administration, and federal agencies remaining active during Obama’s lame-duck period, there was plenty of news to shake us from our turkey-induced stupors after Thanksgiving.

Home Health Spending Tops $35 Billion

Medicare spending for home health accelerated in 2015, according to the latest annual National Health Expenditures report from the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which was released Friday.

Specifically, Medicare spending for home health increased 2.6% in 2015 after growing 1.7% in 2014.

There was an inverse slowdown in Medicare hospital spending growth, from 2.6% in 2014 to 1.7% in 2015.

Although CMS did not explicitly state this in announcing the findings, the agency has been introducing Medicare reforms meant to drive more patients toward lower-cost settings and away from hospitals.

Overall, $35.1 billion from Medicare went toward home health in 2015. About $32 billion in Medicaid and $9.4 billion in private insurance went toward home health.

DOL Appeals

In one notable development, the Department of Labor (DOL) has appealed a recently blocked rule that would have extended overtime to millions of salaried employees, including some in home health. The rule would have taken effect on Thursday. Here’s our coverage of the injunction, and here’s the DOL’s statement about its appeal.

However, the appeal could be more symbolic than anything else. Depending on how quickly the legal process moves, the incoming Labor Secretary under Trump could “pull the plug” on the appeal after taking office in January, The National Law Review notes. Trump has not explicilty commented on the overtime rule but has spoken about rolling back regulation generally.

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Written by Tim Mullaney

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