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Proposal: Medicare to cover HIV testing

Category: HIV monitoring/Treatment/Testing/Post Diagnos

The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday a proposal to cover HIV testing for a range of Medicare beneficiaries.

The proposal, aimed at refocusing national attention on the HIV epidemic, would extend screenings for the infectious disease to Medicare recipients who are at increased risk for the infection, including pregnant women and Medicare recipients who voluntarily request the service. The plan marks the first instance of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expanding its list of covered services under The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA).

MIPPA authorizes CMS to consider whether preventative services on which Congress has not previously ruled should be covered by Medicare. The CMS decision must also be accompanied by a strong recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary commented that about 19 percent of all U.S. citizens with AIDS were at least 50 years old at the time of their diagnosis. She added, "Knowing about their HIV status can help patients live longer, fuller lives as well as avoid unintentional transmission of the virus to others."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximates that between 16 million and 22 million people in the U.S. are tested for HIV each year.

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