Medicare is considering covering the costs of a wide array of additional procedures at ambulatory surgery centers, including virtually all outpatient surgical procedures that don't pose a significant safety risk or require an overnight stay, officials said. The list of approved procedures will be updated by July 1, 2007, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a recent letter to Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the sponsor of legislation calling for expansion of Medicare coverage. While many common procedures are already reimbursed by the government, the new rules will offer Medicare beneficiaries additional choices, officials said. "It's not necessarily a huge volume increase -- just an expansion of choices," said Craig Jeffries, executive director at the American Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers. Jeffries said the list of approved procedures would grow from about 2,500 to almost 5,000 under the approach outlined by Leavitt. Almost 80% of surgeries in the U.S. are performed at outpatient sites, and one out of every five is done at an ambulatory surgery center, said Kathy Bryant, executive vice president at the Federated Ambulatory Surgery Association. -- by Michael Romano
Medicare may expand approved outpatient surgeries
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