The Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee said there is not enough clinical evidence to support expanding Medicare coverage of bariatric surgery to obese patients without comorbid conditions. Medicare currently covers the costly and dangerous surgery only as a last-resort treatment for obese patients suffering such conditions as diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea. The advisory committee, made up of independent experts, does not make formal recommendations for coverage but only evaluates whether there is enough clinical evidence of positive outcomes to justify coverage. A CMS spokesman said the agency has not received a specific request to cover bariatric surgery for such a patient, but when it does, "we'll say we need more evidence." Bariatric surgery, in which part of the stomach is sealed off to reduce how much food a patient can intake, has become increasingly popular in recent years. -- by Jeff Tieman
Panel: Not enough data to expand obesity surgery
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