Friday, September 17, 2004

Medicare to Cover PET in Diagnosis of Some Suspected Dementias

Medicare has announced that it will begin authorizing coverage for obtaining PET scans to aid in diagnosis for patients with atypical symptoms of Alzheimer's disease or those suspected of rarer dementing diseases, such as the "fronto-temporal" dementias.

Reuters quotes Mark McClellan, administrator of the agency that oversees Medicare, saying, "We ought to approve coverage for patients who've been worked up but whose diagnosis is uncertain."

From the Washington Post:

Medicare Will Pay for Alzheimer's Scan
Doubts About Technology Lead Agency to Cover Only Some Patients

By Rick Weiss and David Brown
The Washington Post
Friday, September 17, 2004; Page A02

Medicare will start paying for specialized brain scans in some patients to help determine if they have Alzheimer's disease, the federal agency that runs the reimbursement program announced yesterday.

The decision caps a four-year struggle by makers of the technology -- known as positron emission tomography, or PET -- to gain approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for PET's use in patients suspected of having Alzheimer's disease.

But in the absence of convincing evidence that PET scans can, by themselves, tell whether a person has Alzheimer's, the agency settled on a much narrower application.

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