CMS to start covering heart procedure that significantly extends life expectancy

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Medicare beneficiaries with heart valve damage will be able to have a valve replacement covered under certain conditions, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Tuesday.  

Patients with aortic stenosis previously often have had to have invasive surgery, but CMS announced it will now cover a transcatheter aortic valve replacement. The surgery is performed via an opening in the leg. The coverage decision is good news for the elderly, as one study indicates AVR surgery prolongs life expectancy by more than 6 years. Cardiac rehab can be an involved process, however.

The decision was completed under a mutual memorandum of understanding between CMS and the Food and Drug Administration. The full decision can be seen here.