The CMS announced Tuesday it has extended coverage of blood pressure monitoring devices to all Medicare beneficiaries suspected of reporting abnormal blood pressure levels when administered in clinical settings.
The agency previously only covered the use of the device, which monitors blood pressure periodically over a 24-hour period, for patients with suspected elevated blood pressure levels due to anxiety from being in a clinical setting. The device can now also be used for patients suspected of having lower than usual blood pressure measurements when inside a doctor's office. Medicare will cover the use of the device once a year per patient.
The devices, called ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, is helpful for clinicians with patients who are nervous in clinical settings, affecting the accuracy of their blood pressure results. The devices track patient's blood pressure throughout the day and the accrued data allows doctors to understand patient's blood pressure during normal activity.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement that the agency "is dedicated to improving cardiovascular health in the Medicare population. (The) decision reflects CMS' commitment to continually updating our policies to ensure that more Medicare beneficiaries have access to the latest technology and appropriate evidence-based healthcare."
The CMS reviewed research on the device and gathered feedback from stakeholders as part of its decision to extend coverage. The agency has covered the use of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring devices for some patients since 2001.
In addition to expanding coverage of the devices, Medicare also lowered its definition of hypertension from a reading of 140/90 down to 130/80 to reflect medical societies' latest recommendations. The agency said in its news release the change "will allow more patients to use ABPM (ambulatory blood pressure monitoring) and receive appropriate treatment if needed."