Wall Street Journal Examines Proposal To Require Medicare Coverage of Tests for Aneurysms
The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday examined plans for a bill that would require Medicare to cover tests for abdominal aortic aneurysms. Eight major medical societies -- including the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Radiology, and the American Vascular Association -- have partnered with Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas) and Jim Greenwood (R-Pa.) to introduce such legislation in April. Medicare currently covers tests for aneurysms when beneficiaries exhibit symptoms. However, according to Robert Zwolak, vascular surgery professor at Dartmouth Medical School, 99% of aneurysm patients do not exhibit symptoms before they experience ruptures and tears in the aorta. Greenwood estimates that coverage for aneurysm tests and subsequent treatment would cost Medicare between $310 million and $620 million over 10 years. Dodd said, "By putting the focus on prevention of an aneurysm rather than the treatment after an aneurysm, we hope to save lives and eventually costs to the Medicare program." According to experts, abdominal aortic aneurysms kill at least 25,000 U.S. residents per year. In addition, a recent study conducted by AVA and the University of Maryland found aneurysms in 5% of men and 1% of women ages 55 and older (Burton, Wall Street Journal, 3/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.