Some healthcare reform provisions take effect

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)

A number of key healthcare reform provisions affecting the long-term care industry began Jan. 1, right before the new session of Congress comes back to Washington, according to The Hill.

Efforts to close the Medicare Part D “donut” hole, for example, started Jan. 1 for Medicare beneficiaries. While the government works on additional changes, beneficiaries will get a 50% discount on brand-name prescriptions. However, the discount is only applied to drugs whose manufacturers have signed agreements with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Meanwhile, the CLASS Act payroll deduction, which will be spent on creating long-term care coverage for enrollees, is estimated to go into effect in October of 2012, ahead of the 2014 rollout of the rest of the bill.

Also taking effect Jan. 1 was a new Medicare regulation that pays physicians to discuss end-of-life care options with new patients and their families, The New York Times reported. When this provision was included in the original healthcare reform bill, reform opponents referred to the provision as “death panels,” which subsequently compelled lawmakers to strip it from the bill. This regulation replaces that provision.

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