More MS news articles for July 2001

Medicare to Cover Sacral Nerve Stimulation for Urinary Incontinence

WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) Jun 29 - Medicare beneficiaries will soon have access to a new treatment for urinary incontinence, a condition that affects an estimated 13 million mostly older male Americans.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson announced on Friday that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would expand Medicare coverage to sacral nerve stimulation.

The treatment involves the implantation of a pacemaker-sized electrical pulse generator in the abdominal wall, with leads connected to the sacral nerves. These impulses control the frequent bladder muscle contractions that cause incontinence.

"This coverage decision emphasizes our commitment to making the best in proven new technologies available to Medicare beneficiaries," said Thompson in a prepared statement. "This is especially important because incontinence affects so many Medicare beneficiaries, and this procedure can significantly improve many people's quality of life."

To be eligible under the plan announced by Thompson, Medicare beneficiaries must have previously failed more conservative treatments, such as behavioral modifications, drug therapy or other surgical interventions.

Officials of the CMS, formerly known as the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), said the approval was an evidence-based decision. "CMS' new coverage process is helping Medicare make the right decisions, based on scientific evidence, on when the program should cover new items, services and procedures," said Dr. Jeffery Kang, director of the agency's Office of Clinical Standards and Quality.

More information about the new treatment procedure and the planned Medicare coverage can be found on the HHS Web page at

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