Medicare To Pay For Obesity Counseling.
USA Today (11/30, Kennedy, Hellmich) reports that yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced (pdf) that Medicare “will pay for screenings and preventive services to help recipients curb obesity and the medical ailments associated with it, primarily heart disease, strokes and diabetes.” Specifically, the new “benefits will include face-to-face counseling every week for one month, then one counseling appointment every other week for the following five months for people who screen positive for obesity.”
“Those who lose at least 6.6 pounds during the first six months will be eligible for once-a-month visits for another six months,” CQ (11/30, Subscription Publication) reports. “The obesity service will be added to other preventive services offered without cost sharing under the health care law.”
Reuters (11/30, Berkrot) quotes CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, MD, who said, “Prevention is crucial for the management and elimination of obesity in our country.”
According to MedPage Today (11/30, Gever), “CMS, which first floated the obesity coverage plan last September, said it expects more than 30% of the Medicare population to qualify for the new benefit.” However, “counseling must take place in a primary care setting such as a physician’s office. It will not be covered when provided in skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, emergency departments, outpatient surgery centers, or hospices.”