CMS proposes depression screening for seniors

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A new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposal would screen more Medicare beneficiaries for depression, according to a recent memo.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force determined that that such screening for depression in adults is “reasonable and necessary for the prevention or early detection of illness or disability, and is appropriate for individuals entitled to benefits under Part A or enrolled under Part B,” the July 19 memo states. Under the proposal, the screenings would take place in primary care settings, with staff that could help the physician screen results and coordinate referrals to mental health providers.

In its recommendation statement, the USPSTF reports that one in six seniors over the age of 65 suffers from depression. According to the statement, “depression in older adults occurs in a complex psychosocial and medical context, and the prevalence of clinically significant depression in later life is estimated to be highest in those with comorbidities including cancer, arthritis, stroke, chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease.” 

CMS is requesting comments before it makes a final determination.

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