Health Highlights: Oct. 24, 2012

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  • Medicare Policy Change Helps Patients Who Need Rehab Services

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Medicare Policy Change Helps Patients Who Need Rehab Services

A proposed Medicare change will enable thousands of patients with disabilities or severe chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease to keep getting rehabilitation and other services.

The change agreed to by the Obama administration in a national class action suit would mean that these patients would continue to receive physical and occupational therapy and other services at home or in a nursing home, even if they don't show improvement, Gill Deford, a lawyer with the Center for Medicare Advocacy, told the Associated Press.

Longstanding Medicare policy says patients must show improvement to keep receiving rehabilitation services. This was challenged in court by the Center for Medical Advocacy and other groups.

"If you have a chronic condition, by definition you are not improving," Deford told the AP. "Our view is that Medicare regulations were intended to allow people to maintain their health status. They don't have to show they are getting any better. The point is to allow them not to get any worse, if possible."

The change could affect tens of thousands -- perhaps hundreds of thousands -- of patients in the U.S. with conditions such as Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, and chronic lung disease.

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