HHS Promotes New Medicare Preventive Benefits for Better Senior Health

Armen Hareyan's picture
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HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson on Monday announced the availability of new Medicare preventive benefits designed to provide seniors with better care and a higher quality of life. He also praised the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association for joining with HHS on an education and outreach effort.

"For too long Medicare only paid for benefits after you got sick. Now, Medicare will pay for benefits that will help seniors prevent the onset of disease before it becomes serious," Secretary Thompson said. "These new changes bring Medicare into the 21st century of medicine. Starting this year, seniors will have better and greater access to benefits to help keep them healthy and improve their quality of life."

As of Jan. 1, 2005, people with Medicare can take advantage of three important new Medicare benefits: a one-time "Welcome to Medicare" physical exam, cardiovascular screening, and diabetes screening.

Secretary Thompson also announced a new collaboration on education and outreach with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) led by CMS Administrator Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., and the leaders of the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association. The campaign is designed to help maximize attention to Medicare's new preventive benefits and to help seniors use them.

"What we want seniors to know is that they can live healthier lives through these new benefits," Dr. McClellan said. "Together, with well-respected preventive health leaders, we have formed a strong partnership to make sure every Medicare beneficiary takes advantage of these new benefits that will lead a better quality of life."

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In addition to the physical and other benefits added in recent years, Medicare's comprehensive set of preventive benefits includes screening services for the following:

  • Heart disease and diabetes;
  • Weak bones and glaucoma; and
  • Cancers of the colon, breast, cervix, and prostate.

Medicare also recently announced its intention to cover smoking cessation counseling for beneficiaries who have smoking-related diseases.

This is part of an ongoing HHS emphasis on preventive health care. Last fall, Secretary Thompson launched a coordination of resources between HHS agencies, specifically CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to maximize preventive health care. HHS is also working closely with members of Congress as part of the broad outreach campaign to make sure Medicare beneficiaries are aware of the preventive benefits.

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The source of this article news is http://www.hhs.gov

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