Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Medicare Considers Paying for STD Screening

By Emily P. Walker, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering whether to pay for sexually transmitted disease testing for elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries.

Medicare already pays for HIV tests, but a National Coverage Analysis (NCA) posted by CMS on Thursday announced that the agency is considering whether to include coverage for testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and syphilis, and to pay for counseling to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Most of the tests would be aimed at detecting infections in high-risk groups, such as pregnant disabled women.

Medicare covers about 39 million people over the age of 65, and nearly eight million people with disabilities who are younger than 65.

The announcement comes as sexually transmitted disease rates among the elderly are increasing. Nearly one-quarter of people living with HIV in the U.S. are older than 50, and rates of chlamydia among men ages 45 to 64 tripled from 1996 to 2006, and doubled among women in the same age group, according to statistics from the CDC.

Researchers explain the increase in a number of ways, including that the elderly are more susceptible to disease, far less likely to use condoms than younger people, and excluded from virtually every STD-prevention educational program.

And then there's the Viagra explanation.
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