Medicare recently proposed expanding coverage of cardiac rehabilitation services for cardiac patients, reports MedPage Today. Prior to the proposal, announced online last week, CMS claimed there was insufficient evidence to support cardiac rehab to patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). Medicare currently only covers such services for patients who have experienced major events like coronary bypass surgery, heart or heart-lung transplant, or an acute myocardial infarction.

CMS is now asking for public comments on increasing coverage to a wider range of heart patients. After reviewing existing literature on cardiac rehab service, the agency stated, “With the accumulated evidence that supports the benefits of the individual components of cardiac rehabilitation programs, the evidence is sufficient to determine that participation in these multi-component programs improves health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic heart failure.”

The proposal includes Medicare coverage for cardiac rehab services including exercise, personal counseling, health education, and behavioral risk factor reduction.

The American Heart Association commended CMS for the move. Dr. Ileana Pina, vice chair of the clinical cardiology council at the AHA, said, “Even though we know all the good things exercise can do, a lot of physicians were not recommending it because the patients would have to pay out of pocket for a cardiac rehab program.”

To read the official proposal, visit here.

By Kindred Hospital Rehabilitation Services