Medicare now covers medical nutrition therapy for all people with diabetes. Coverage was previously limited to those with uncontrolled diabetes and those who were on kidney dialysis. Now, as estimated 4.5 million Medicare recipients plus more than 100,000 people with kidney disease are eligible for individualized medical nutrition therapy that will help teach them how to eat better to control their diseases or to lose weight.
The change came about after a government-sponsored study showed that nutrition counseling with a dietitian is cost-effective, with the greatest impact in people with diabetes and kidney disease. Instead of paying for the costly consequences of poor nutrition, the government recognized the benefit in paying for services that may well prevent the complications.
The new benefit permits people to meet one-on-one with a registered dietitian to discuss diet and exercise, review lab tests and set goals for making changes in diet. A final decision on the number of such visits is still pending, but a Medicare spokesman estimated that three to four such visits a year would be covered.
The new benefits took effect on January 1, 2002. A spokesman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that operates Medicare, told lifeclinic.com, "we are accepting and paying claims now."
March is National Nutrition Month -- use this opportunity to set up an appointment with a registered dietitian. You can locate one via the American Dietetic Association’s web site at www.eatright.org.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. CMS announces physician pay changes for 2002 - Final rule expands coverage for preventive services. Medicare News Release, Oct. 31, 2001.
- CMS/HCFA. Medicare coverage policy - decisions, January 2002.
- Squires S. Medicare widens funding for diet help. Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2002, page HE01.