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More than half the nation’s programs programs for the elderly have cut services because of higher fuel and food prices — and about 90 percent will be forced to make more cuts next year.
Caregivers for the nation’s elderly also report an increase in the time that recipients wait for services — including transportation, home-delivered meals, cleaning and homecare. Continue Reading Energy crisis taking toll on programs for seniors

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Private insurers participating in the Medicare Advantage program during 2005 spent less on services for beneficiaries and recorded larger profits than projected, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
The 120 forms reviewed by GAO represented 78 percent of plan enrollment. According to the report, the plans projected spending 90.2 percent of total revenue on medical services but only spent 85.7 percent. Continue Reading Medicare Advantage program makes $1 billion more than anticipated (20097)

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Cost continues to be the most significant barrier for small businesses when deciding whether to offer health insurance.
The National Association of the Self-Employed surveyed 4,000 micro-businesses — businesses with five or fewer employees — to measure the impact of rising costs.
There are more than 24 million micro-businesses in the United States, creating more than one-third of all new jobs. Continue Reading Fewer companies offering insurance for employees

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New rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will allow medical researchers access to millions of Medicare prescription drug benefit claims.
The rules limit studies to the commercial parts of the program, but will allow researchers to study the safety and effectiveness of medications among the elderly and disabled. Clinical trials often exclude the very old, patients with multiple chronic conditions and those taking multiple medications. Continue Reading CMS provides researchers with access to drug data

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The move toward online health records has taken a big step forward.
Microsoft and Kaiser Permanente plan to test a program that will provide information transfers from Kaiser’s health manager to Microsoft’s consumer health platform.
The pilot program is expected to create strategies for expanding consumer access to online health information and management tools. Continue Reading Kaiser, Microsoft testing online records program

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Health insurance premiums in Colorado grew nearly 60 percent between 2000 and 2006, and the cost of coverage is eating away at an increasing share of business expenses and employees’ wages.
The Colorado Business Health Forum says that employee contributions to family premiums grew 85 percent between 2000 and 2005, from an average of $1,536 to $2,845. During the same period, average wage growth was 12 percent. Continue Reading Rising health care costs hammer Colorado businesses, workers

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Colorado hospitals will have the chance to test bundled payments for hospitals and doctor services through a Medicare demonstration program being tested by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The goal of Acute Care Episode testing is to determine whether combining the payments leads to better quality and greater efficiency using a global-payments system to align incentives for providers. Continue Reading Pilot program for bundled payments ready to launch

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Nursing teachers have the opportunity to qualify to have as much as $20,000 of their student loan debt forgiven through the Loan Incentive for Teachers of Nursing Program.
A total of $250,000 in student loan forgiveness is available through CollegeInvest. Qualified teachers can receive up to $4,000 in student loan forgiveness each year for five years. Continue Reading Nurses may qualify for student-loan debt forgiveness

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The number of small group plans decreased in Colorado during 2007, according to the Colorado Division of Insurance’s annual small group activity report.
While the report shows no significant increase or decrease in the number of people covered by small group insurance from 2006 to 2007, the number of plans decreased from 48,288 to 45,667. Continue Reading Small group plans decrease, but number served steady

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The cost of long-term care in Colorado has increased 20 percent since 2004, compared to a nationwide increase of 17 percent.
A Cost of Care Survey released by Genworth Financial Group finds that the cost of elder care in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and at-home care increased for the fifth straight year. One year in a private nursing home in Colorado, for example, costs $75,259. By contrast, the national average for the same type of facility is $76,460 — Continue Reading Long-term care costs rise for fifth consecutive year

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