Medicare Now Covers Certain Treatments for Patients With Alzheimer’s Disease

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    From: Home Healthcare Nurse, July 2002


    HOME HEALTHCARE NURSE 2002;20:414
    Carolyn J. Humphrey , MS, RN, FAAN
    http://www.nursingcenter.com/library...icle_ID=274696

    Focus on AD in November HHN Look for HHN ’s Special issue “New Ways to Care for Patient’s With Alzheimer Disease” in November 2002, as well as ongoing articles that will help you assess and develop creative care planning for these patients while considering reimbursement implications.


    Without a formal public announcement and little fanfare from the Administration, Medicare authorized a change in its coverage for patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in early April. Medicare beneficiaries can no longer be denied reimbursement for the costs of mental health services, hospice care, or home care just because they have AD.

    The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 10% of adults >65 years old and nearly 50% of those age >85 have AD, a brain disorder that causes loss of memory, changes in personality and behavior, and a decline in thinking abilities. Previously, many Medicare claims for assessment, treatment, and supportive home care, hospice, and other outpatient services were automatically denied on the assumption that treatment for these patients was futile because patients were incapable of medical improvement.

    Increasingly, studies show that adults with AD can often benefit from psychotherapy, physical and occupational therapy, and other services. The government reportedly revised its policy because doctors and psychologists can now diagnoses AD in its early stages, when patients are likely to derive significant benefits from treatment and therapy. The CMS policy memorandum was sent late in 2001 to the fiscal intermediaries (FIs) who have begun to implement the change.

    In the past, nearly all claims for patients with AD and other types of dementia were rejected upon submission, the new policy bans such computer screenings and forbids FIs from denying claims simply because a person has AD; the needs and treatment approaches indicated by assessment and diagnosis must first be assessed.

    Although many specifics regarding coverage criteria and overall costs to the program remain vague, it’s important to understand that the coverage is not for the AD condition but for treatments from which patients with AD can benefit (i.e., pharmacologic, physical, occupational, speech-language, and other therapies).

    As specifics emerge, check the following for clarification:

    The Program Memorandum (Transmittal AB-02-135) can be found at: www.hcfa.gov/pubforms/transmit/AB01135.pdf

    The Alzheimer’s Association news release on the rule change can be found at: http://www.alz.org/meddia/news/curre...01medicare.htm

    The April 1, 2002, press release issued by CMS Administrator Tom Scully can be found at: www.cms.hhs.gov/media/press/release.asp


    Home Healthc Nurse 2002 July;20(7):414
    Copyright © 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    All rights reserved
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