Medicare decides not to pay for virtual colonoscopies

CMS disappointed supporters this week when it announced that it was ending Medicare coverage for virtual colonoscopies.
The procedures, known as CT colonographies, use X-ray images and software to create images of the colon.

Advocates argue that virtual colonoscopies should be covered, as such procedures are more efficient, less costly and more comfortable for patients than standard colonoscopies.

CMS officials, for their part, conceded that while VCs may be better than standard procedures at finding larger polyps, they're concerned that the procedures don't work as well for beneficiaries ages 65 and older. They also noted that polyps can be removed during the standard procedure, but not during a VC.

CMS said that additional studies are needed that focus on the benefits of VCs for the Medicare population.

To learn more about Medicare's decision:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report item

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