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CMS finalizes coverage for depression, alcohol screening

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 24, 2011

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The Medicare program will now cover screening for depression and counseling for alcohol misuse, according to an Oct. 14 coverage decision memo from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The new preventive services will be available to Medicare patients at no cost. Annual screening for depression is covered in primary care settings with staff resources to follow up with treatment and referrals, CMS said. The purpose of the screening is to ensure accurate diagnosis and care for depression.

Primary care physicians or nurse practitioners can provide annual alcohol misuse screenings, CMS said. The benefit includes four behavioral counseling sessions a year when the patient screening is positive for misuse.

CMS had proposed the new services in July. The proposal was finalized after a comment period.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/10/24/gvbf1024.htm.

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