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Medicare Will Pay for Obesity Screening, Intervention, Says CMS
Financial Impact on FPs Still Unclear
By Matt Brown
"If the services are going to be bundled with other services on the same date, there is little value," Hughes told AAFP News Now. "If the codes are only bundled with preventive services, there may be value. With several new national coverage decisions for preventive counseling out there, it may be awhile before we see more detail."
Although the rule change means that, technically, Medicare beneficiaries should immediately be able to start receiving the services without having to make a copayment, in the absence of billing or coding guidelines, it may prove difficult for physicians to provide or even refer patients for a particular service, Hughes said.
- CMS has announced that obesity screening and intensive behavioral counseling now will be covered by Medicare.
- According to an AAFP coding and compliance specialist, how these services are bundled will determine the financial impact for FPs.
According to the agency's decision memo, "The USPSTF found good evidence that body mass index, or BMI … is reliable and valid for identifying adults at increased risk for mortality and morbidity due to overweight and obesity," said the memo. "There is fair to good evidence that high-intensity counseling -- about diet, exercise, or both -- together with behavioral interventions aimed at skill development, motivation and support strategies produces modest, sustained weight loss in adults who are obese."
- screening for obesity in adults using BMI measurement, with obesity defined as a BMI of 30 kg/m² or greater;
- a dietary (nutritional) assessment; and
- intensive behavioral counseling and behavioral therapy that promotes sustained weight loss through high-intensity interventions on diet and exercise.
- asking about/assessing behavioral health risks and factors affecting choice of behavior change goals/methods;
- giving clear, specific and personalized behavior change advice, including information about personal health harms and benefits;
- collaboratively agreeing on appropriate treatment goals and methods based on the patient's interest in and willingness to change the behavior;
- using behavior change techniques (e.g., self-help and/or counseling) to assist the patient to achieve agreed-upon goals by acquiring the skills, confidence and social/environmental supports for behavior change, supplemented with adjunctive medical treatments when appropriate; and
- arranging scheduled follow-up contacts (in person or by telephone) to provide ongoing assistance/support and to adjust the treatment plan as needed, including referral to more intensive or specialized treatment.