CMS WANTS SENIORS TO STAY HEALTHY

OCTOBER 01, 2007

Medicare officials want seniors to take advantage of the screening tests and immunizations that Medicare now covers. Data show that fewer than 1 in 10 recipients are getting all the screenings and immunizations recommended by public health groups, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Medicare's hope is that spending money upfront will save tax dollars down the line. "It is a fundamental change in the way Medicare thinks," said Herb Kuhn, acting deputy administrator at CMS.

Medicare spent the summer spreading the word with a bus tour of 48 states and >120 cities in conjunction with local officials, hospitals, and senior care groups. In 2007, Medicare started paying for ultrasound screenings for aortic aneurysms in at-risk patients. Over the past 5 years, the program has added coverage for glaucoma screenings, cardiovascular and diabetic screenings, and medical-nutrition therapy. The program has covered vaccines for flu, pneumonia, and hepatitis B; mammograms; cervical and prostate cancer tests; and bone-density screenings.



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