Medicare has announced a new service that it will pay for in full. I have highlighted in bold and red below the new service. Is it a good service, I guess. So, let’s think about this, why wouldn’t this be part of a normal office visit? Why wouldn’t this type of discussion take place during the course of ongoing treatment or following with one’s doctor? Perhaps it does in many cases; certainly there is a great deal of promotion of a healthy diet. And I have another question, at age 65 and over just how much prevention can take place, can a life’s worth of poor habits be wiped out to the extent there is prevention of potential cardiovascular disease?
My objection with all this is not with the goal of helping people, rather it is with the idea that making more and more “free” is helpful to anyone. In addition, we continuously fail to conduct a real cost benefit analysis on what we do. This benefit would make more sense for forty-five year olds would it not, yet we seem to direct more and more of our limited resources at the oldest segment of our population at the expense of the other 250 million Americans.
Medicare expands coverage of cardiovascular disease prevention services
New, free preventive services for Medicare beneficiaries support Million Hearts initiative
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced that Medicare is adding coverage for a number of preventive services to reduce cardiovascular disease. This new coverage policy will add to the existing portfolio of free preventive services that are now available for people with Medicare, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. It contributes to the Million Hearts initiative led jointly by CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with other HHS agencies, communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, and private sector partners across the country to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the next five years.
“Access to preventive services helps Medicare beneficiaries identify health risk factors and disease early to provide greater opportunities for early treatment,” said CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, M.D. “CMS continues to carefully and systematically review the best available medical evidence to identify those preventive services that can keep Medicare beneficiaries as healthy as possible for as long as possible.”
Under this coverage decision, CMS will cover one face-to-face visit each year to allow patients and their care providers to determine the best way to help prevent cardiovascular disease. The visit must be furnished by primary care practitioners, such as a beneficiary’s family practice physician, internal medicine physician, or nurse practitioner, in settings such as physicians’ offices. During these visits, providers may screen for hypertension and promote healthy diet as part of an overall initiative to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in the United States.
Cardiovascular disease characterizes conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is also the leading cause of mortality in the United States. Today’s new coverage policy does not change current Medicare coverage for beneficiaries diagnosed with cardiovascular disease to receive assessment and intervention services.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced its Million Hearts national initiative, aimed at preventing a million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. by 2017. Through Million Hearts, CMS, the CDC and other HHS agencies are working together with public and private sector organizations to make a long-lasting impact against cardiovascular disease.
“This coverage decision reinforces CMS’ commitment to the work of the Million Hearts initiative,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS chief medical officer and director of the Agency’s Office of Clinical Standards and Quality. “One of the main ways we will prevent cardiovascular disease in this country is to empower Americans to make heart-healthy lifestyle changes, and Medicare’s new cardiovascular disease preventive services will allow more beneficiaries to do just that.”
For more information about Million Hearts, please visit millionhearts.hhs.gov. To read the new policy, visit the CMS website at: http://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=248