Medicare Now Covering Screening and Counseling to Prevent Obesity

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare is adding coverage for preventive services to reduce obesity, adding to the existing preventive services now available without cost sharing under the Affordable Care Act. According to a press release, the services include obesity screening and counseling with a primary care provider

Beneficiaries with a body mass index greater than 30kg/m2 are eligible for one face-to-face counseling visit each week for the first month and a visit every other week for the subsequent 5 months. If the beneficiary has lost at least 6.6 pounds during the first 6 months of counseling, then he or she may receive one counseling session per month for 6 additional months.

“This decision is an important step in aligning Medicare’s portfolio of preventative services with evidence and addressing risk factors for disease,” Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, CMS’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Agency’s Office of Clinical Standards and Quality, stated in the release. “We at CMS are carefully and systematically reviewing the best available medical evidence to identify those preventative services that can keep Medicare beneficiaries as healthy as possible for as long as possible.”

These new services will complement the Million Hearts initiative, lead jointly by CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with other health systems, nonprofit organizations and agencies from the Department of Health and Human services, which is seeking to prevent 1 million heart attacks over the next 5 years.

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