The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) periodically releases changes to services covered by Medicare through National Coverage Determinations (NCD). Health plans are required to notify members of these changes. A NCD is a nationwide determination by CMS on whether an item or service is medically necessary. Please check back often to review the most recent updates on Medicare covered services. The full text of these updates may be found here: national coverage annual report
Effective January 18, 2017, Medicare will cover leadless pacemakers when procedures are performed in FDA approved studies and also in prospective longitudinal studies where leadless pacemakers that are used in accordance with FDA approved label for devices that have either:
Each study must be approved by CMS and must address the following research questions:
To read the decision from CMS, please visit https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=285.
Approved studies will be posted in the following link: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coverage/Coverage-with-Evidence-Development/index.html
Effective December 7, 2016, Medicare will cover through prospective longitudinal studies Percutaneous Image-Guided Lumbar Decompression (PILD) using an FDA-approved/cleared device, that successfully completed a CMS-approved RCT that met the criteria listed in Section 150.13 of the NCD manual. In addition, the CMS-approved prospective longitudinal study must answer at least one of the following questions:
To read the decision from CMS, please visit https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=284.
Approved studies can be found in the following link: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coverage/Coverage-with-Evidence-Development/PILD.html
Effective September 28, 2016, Medicare will now cover screening for Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infection with the appropriate FDA approved tests when ordered by your PCP for beneficiaries who meet either of the following 2 conditions:
To read the decision from CMS, please visit https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=283
Effective February 8, 2016, Medicare will now cover percutaneous left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) for non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) with the following 2 conditions:
To read the decision from CMS, please visit https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=281
Effective January 27, 2016, Medicare will expand its coverage of Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) to now cover Multiple Myeloma, Myelofibrosis, and Sickle Cell Disease. Allogeneic HSCT will be covered by Medicare for those who participate in an approved clinical study. In addition, you must have the following:
To read the decision from CMS, please visit https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=280
Effective December 15, 2015, Medicare will no longer cover F-18 Sodium Fluoride (NaF-18) Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan to identify whether cancer from a primary organ has spread to the bone. Medicare will continue to cover NaF-18 PET Scans for clinical studies for up to 24 months if any of the below criteria is met. The extension allows more research done to answer the question of: does PET imaging lead to:
To read the decision from CMS, please visit https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=279
Effective July 29, 2015, Medicare has expanded the coverage for speech generating devices are Durable Medical Equipment to cover any speech generating devices that allow speech in the form of both audible and written communications – including the generation of written messages (such as email and text messages), and the capability to interface electronically with a telephone to deliver speech via phone messages to individuals who are not within hearing distance of the user. The speech generating device may be software. The speech generating device no longer needs to be “dedicated” to speech generation so long as the speech generating device is limited to use by patients with severe speech impairment, and is primarily used for the purpose of generating speech.
Please note that computers and tablets in general are not considered DME and Medicare will not cover internet or phone services.
To read the decision from CMS, please visit http://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/medicare-coverage-document-details.aspx?MCDId=26#final
Effective July 9, 2015, Medicare will cover FDA approved testing for HPV once every five years as a part of the Part B preventive service benefit when tested alongside pap smear testing for the purpose of screening for HPV as an early indicator of cervical cancer. The tests must be ordered by the beneficiary’s physician or practitioner within the context of a healthcare setting and performed by an eligible Medicare provider or supplier for these services, for beneficiaries who do not have any symptoms of HPV and are between the ages of 30 and 65.
To read the decision from CMS, please visit http://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=278
Effective April 13, 2015, Medicare will cover screening for HIV when they are conducted with approved tests, are used appropriately, and are ordered by the beneficiary’s physician or practitioner within the context of a healthcare setting and performed by an eligible Medicare provider or supplier for these services, for beneficiaries who meet one of the following conditions:
To read the decision from CMS, please visit http://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=276
Effective February 5, 2015, Medicare will cover lung cancer screening with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) once per year for Medicare beneficiaries who meet all of the following criteria:
Medicare coverage includes a visit for counseling and shared decision-making on the benefits and risks of lung cancer screening. To read the decision from CMS, please visit http://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=274
Effective January 13, 2015, CMS has removed a previously implemented NCD, which had stated that microvolt T-wave alternans (MTWA) with the modified moving average (MMA) method would not be nationally covered by Medicare. With this update, the national non-coverage of MTWA using the MMA method will be removed. Instead, Medicare coverage of this procedure will be determined by the local contractors. To read the decision from CMS, please visit http://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/nca-decision-memo.aspx?NCAId=275
Effective December 18, 2014, CMS has removed the following 7 NCDs from the NCD manual:
When an NCD is removed, local Medicare contractors will determine whether coverage for these specific items or services is reasonable and necessary. Coverage is no longer guaranteed under Medicare. To read the decision from CMS, please visit http://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/details/medicare-coverage-document-details.aspx?MCDId=29
Effective May 30, 2014 (with an implementation date of June 29, 2014), CMS has invalidated and removed NCD 140.3 - Transsexual Surgery. This NCD had stated that transsexual surgery is not covered by Medicare because it is experimental and has high risk of complications. The provisions/reasoning of NCD 140.3 may no longer be used as a basis for denying claims for transsexual surgeries. Now, local contractors and adjudicators will consider whether any Medicare claims for these services are reasonable and necessary and should be covered. To read the decision from CMS, please visit https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Transmittals/Downloads/R169NCD.pdf
Effective October 9, 2014, Medicare Part B will cover the Cologuard test once every three years for beneficiaries who meet all of the following criteria:
Effective June 2, 2014, CMS will cover screening for hepatitis C virus consistent with the grade B recommendations by the USPSTF for the prevention or early detection of an illness or disability and is appropriate for individuals entitled to benefits under Medicare Part A or enrolled under Part B.
Effective for dates of service on and after February 18, 2014, Medicare covers cardiac rehabilitation services to beneficiaries with stable, chronic heart failure defined as patients with left ventricular ejection fraction of 35% or less and New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II to IV symptoms despite being on optimal heart failure therapy for at least 6 weeks.
Effective for claims with dates of service on or after January 9, 2014, PILD is covered by Medicare when provided in a clinical study under section 1862(a)(1)(E) through Coverage with Evidence Development (CED) for beneficiaries with LSS who are enrolled in an approved clinical study the necessary criteria.
Effective October 30, 2013, an artificial heart for bridge-to-transplantation (BTT) and an artificial heart for destination therapy (DT), for services performed on or after May 1, 2008, are covered when performed under coverage with evidence development (CED) when a clinical study meets all of the criteria listed below. The clinical study must address at least one of the following questions:
Effective October 30, 2013, VADs used for support of blood circulation post-cardiotomy and VADs used for bridge to transplant are covered only if they have received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that purpose, and the VADs are used according to the FDA-approved labeling instructions. VADs used for destination therapy (DT) are covered only if they have received approval from the FDA for that purpose.
The VADs are covered for patients who have chronic end-stage heart failure (New York Heart Association Class IV end-stage left ventricular failure) who are not candidates for heart transplantation at the time of VAD implant, and meet the following conditions:
Facilities currently credentialed by the Joint Commission for placement of VADs as DT must have the beneficiaries receiving VADs for DT managed by an explicitly identified cohesive, multidisciplinary team of medical professionals with the appropriate qualifications, training, and experience. Collectively, the team must ensure that patients and caregivers have the knowledge and support necessary to participate in shared decision making and to provide appropriate informed consent. The team members must be based at the facility and must include individuals with experience working with patients before and after placement of a VAD.
Effective September 27, 2013, Medicare will only allow coverage for PET Aß imaging (one PET Aß scan per patient) through coverage with evidence development (CED) to: (1) develop better treatments or prevention strategies for AD, or, as a strategy to identify subpopulations at risk for developing AD, or (2) resolve clinically difficult differential diagnoses (e.g., frontotemporal dementia (FTD) versus AD) where the use of PET Aß imaging appears to improve health outcomes, when the patient is enrolled in an approved clinical study under CED.
Effective September 24, 2013, Medicare Administrative Contractors acting within their respective jurisdictions may determine coverage of stand-alone laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG) for the treatment of co-morbid conditions related to obesity in Medicare beneficiaries when the following conditions are met: 1) the beneficiary has a body-mass index (BMI) = 35 kg/m2, 2) the beneficiary has at least one co-morbidity related to obesity, and 3) the beneficiary has been previously unsuccessful with medical treatment for obesity. Facility certification is no longer required for coverage of covered bariatric surgery procedures.
Under CMS revision
Effective August 13, 2013, CMS will cover implanted permanent cardiac pacemakers, single chamber or dual chamber, for the treatment of non-reversible symptomatic bradycardia due to sinus node dysfunction and second and/or third degree atrioventricular block.
Effective June 11, 2013, CMS continues to nationally cover one FDG PET study for beneficiaries who have cancers that are biopsy proven or strongly suspected based on other diagnostic testing when the beneficiary’s treating physician determines that the FDG PET study is needed to determine the location and/or extent of the tumor for the following therapeutic purposes related to the initial anti-tumor treatment strategy:
Three FDG PET scans are nationally covered when used to guide subsequent management of anti-tumor treatment strategy after completion of initial anti-cancer therapy.
Effective May 29, 2013, for claims with dates of service May 29, 2013 and later, CMS covers the oral antiemetic three-drug regimen of oral aprepitant, an oral 5HT3 antagonist and oral dexamethasone for beneficiaries who are receiving one or more of the following anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agents: Alemtuzumab, Azacitidine, Bendamustine, Carboplatin, Carmustine, Cisplatin, Clofarabine, Cyclophosphamide, Cytarabine, Dacarbazine, Daunorubicin, Doxorubicin, Epirubicin, Idarubicin, Ifosfamide, Irinotecan, Lomustine, Mechlorethamine, Oxaliplatin, Streptozocin.
Effective April 3, 2013, CMS expanded coverage of ocular photodynamic therapy (OPT) with verteporfin for "wet" age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in NCD 80.3.1, Verteporfin. CMS revised the requirements for testing to permit either optical coherence tomography (OCT) or fluorescein angiography (FA) to assess treatment response.
OPT is only covered when used in conjunction with verteporfin (see section 80.3, "Photosensitive Drugs").
OPT is covered with a diagnosis of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with predominately classic subfoveal choroidal neovascular (CNV) lesions (where the area of classic CNV occupies > 50% of the area of the entire lesion) at the initial visit as determined by a fluorescein angiogram(FA).
OPT with verteporfin for other ocular indications such as pathologic myopia or presumed ocular histoplasmosis syndrome, is eligible for coverage through individual Medicare Administrative Contractor discretion.
Effective March 7, 2013, local Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) may determine coverage within their respective jurisdictions for positron emission tomography (PET) using radiopharmaceuticals for their Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved labeled indications for oncologic imaging.
Effective January 1, 2013, percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) is covered when used under the following conditions:
Effective August 2, 2012, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has determined that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) – an autologous blood-derived product, will be covered only for the treatment of chronic non-healing diabetic, venous and/or pressure wounds, and only under a clinical research study when specified criteria are met.
Effective June 21, 2012, Medicare Administrative Contractors acting within their respective jurisdictions may determine coverage of adult liver transplantation for the following malignancies: (1) extrahepatic unresectable cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), (2) liver metastases due to a neuroendocrine tumor (NET), and (3) hemangioendothelioma (HAE).
Effective June 8, 2012, CMS covers TENS for CLBP when the beneficiary is enrolled in an approved clinical study meeting the requirements detailed in the NCD.
Effective May 1, 2012, CMS covers TAVR for the treatment of symptomatic aortic valve stenosis when furnished according to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved indication and when all of the conditions specified in the NCD are met. TAVR is also covered for uses that are not expressly listed as an FDA approved indication when performed within a clinical study meeting established requirements.
Effective April 30, 2012, CMS covers ECP for the treatment of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) following lung allograft transplantation. Coverage is only allowed when ECP is provided under a clinical research study that meets specific requirements to assess the effect of ECP for the treatment of BOS following lung allograft transplantation.
Effective November 29, 2011, CMS covers screening and counseling for obesity in a primary care setting. Medicare beneficiaries who screen for a body mass index meeting a specific threshold are eligible for one face-to-face counseling visit per week for one month, followed by one face-to-face counseling visit every other week for an additional five months. If beneficiaries receiving counseling reduce their weight by at least 6.6 pounds during the first six months of counseling, they are eligible for one face-to-face counseling visit every month for an additional six months.
Effective November 8, 2011, CMS covers intensive behavioral therapy for cardiovascular disease (referred to below as a CVD risk reduction visit), if the service is provided by primary care practitioners in primary care settings such as the beneficiary’s family practice physician, internal medicine physician, or nurse practitioner in the doctor’s office. It consists of the following three components:
encouraging aspirin use for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease when the benefits outweigh the risks for men age 45-79 years and women 55-79 years;
screening for high blood pressure in adults age 18 years and older; and,
intensive behavioral counseling to promote a healthy diet for adults with hyperlipidemia, hypertension, advancing age, and other known risk factors for cardiovascular and diet-related chronic disease.
Effective November 8, 2011, CMS covers screening for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and hepatitis B, as well as high intensity behavioral counseling (HIBC) to prevent STIs. These screenings are reasonable and necessary for the prevention or early detection of an illness or disability. The covered screening lab tests must be ordered by the primary care provider and the HIBC must be provided by primary care providers in primary care settings such as by the beneficiary’s family practice physician, internal medicine physician, or nurse practitioner in the doctor’s office.
Effective October 14, 2011, Medicare covers annual screening for adults for depression in the primary care setting that have staff-assisted depression care supports in place to assure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and follow-up.
Effective October 14, 2011, CMS covers annual alcohol screening, and for those that screen positive, up to four, brief, face-to-face behavioral counseling interventions per year for Medicare beneficiaries, including pregnant women: