The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services Expands Obesity Coverage to Include “Intensive Behavioral Therapy”

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On November 29, 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services announced its decision to cover intensive behavioral therapy for obese Medicare beneficiaries as an “additional preventive service” defined under the Social Security Act. Previously, the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services had covered only bariatric surgery for obesity. For years, prevention advocates have also complained that federal health insurance covers screening for risk factors, but not the preventive services that would reduce disease risk or reverse disease development. The current National Coverage Determination is a step forward in providing preventive coverage of obesity interventions, but specific limitations still exist and are described.

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