Medicare has expanded its list of covered preventive services to include HIV infection screening tests, the CMS announced in a final coverage decision.
Medicare to cover HIV screening tests
“Today’s decision marks an important milestone in the history of the Medicare program,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a written statement. “Beginning with expanding coverage for HIV screening, we can now work proactively as a program to help keep Medicare beneficiaries healthy and take a more active role in evaluating the evidence for preventive services.”
The screening will be available to any beneficiaries at increased risk for the infection, including women who are pregnant, and Medicare beneficiaries of any age who voluntarily request the service.
The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 made it possible for the CMS to expand Medicare's list of covered preventive services under certain circumstances. Prior to this law, Congress’ authorization was required first before Medicare could cover additional preventive screening tests.
AIDS is diagnosed when an HIV-infected person’s immune system becomes severely compromised or a person becomes ill with an HIV-related infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 1 million people have the HIV infection, although some are not aware they are infected.
“Every adult should know their HIV status,” said Howard Koh, HHS assistant secretary for health, in a written statement. “This decision by Medicare should help promote screening and save lives.”
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