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Medicare to Cover Alcohol Screenings and Behavioral Counseling

Medicare will extend coverage, at no additional cost, to provide screening services for depression and for alcohol abuse disorders and to provide behavioral counseling to Seniors with alcohol abuse problems.

Seniors with Medicare are now eligible for increased substance abuse and mental health services, in most cases at no extra cost.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced an extension of coverage of Medicare services. Seniors with Medicare can now receive:

  • An annual alcohol abuse screening in a primary care setting, such as in a doctor’s office
  • 4 sessions of behavioral alcohol abuse counseling upon an alcohol abuse screening which indicates a possible problem with substance abuse
  • An annual screening for depression in any primary care facility which has the resources to provide support or referrals to appropriate services

Commenting on the new coverage, Donald M. Berwick, MD of CMS said, “Preventive services bring relief to Medicare beneficiaries for whom preventive care means early identification of disease and greater opportunity for treatment and recovery. It’s just as important for our elderly beneficiaries to enjoy access to preventive services as it is for any American.”

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