Monday, July 05, 2010

Statement from Secretary Sebelius on Proposed CMS Rule to Expand Medicare Preventive Services and Expand Access to Primary Care

On June 25, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) took another important step to help improve the health status of Medicare beneficiaries. The proposed regulation will implement the new preventive health benefits created under the Affordable Care Act for the seniors and persons with disabilities who rely on Medicare for their health care coverage.

The new rule proposes to make two significant improvements to preventive care benefits under Medicare: Beginning January 1, 2011, Medicare will cover annual wellness visits so that doctors and patients can develop a personalized prevention plan that takes a comprehensive approach to improving the patient’s health. Also beginning January 1, 2011, Medicare beneficiaries will no longer have to pay any out-of-pocket costs for most preventive services – including that annual wellness visit.

To help make sure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to primary care doctors, the rule would also boost payments for primary care services. The proposed regulation would also increase access to services by creating payment incentives for general surgeons as well as expand access to other types of health care providers.

Improving access to preventive services and primary care is a top priority for HHS. The proposed rule is just one part of a broader effort we are making to improve the health status of Medicare beneficiaries – and all Americans. We recently announced the allocation of $500 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund – created by the Affordable Care Act – to invest in the training and development of primary care professionals as well as preventive care activities and public health infrastructure.

With these new benefits under Medicare, and investments in our health care system, the Affordable Care Act is continuing the Obama Administration’s historic work to promote wellness and reduce chronic disease.

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