Medicare Expands Coverage of Weight Loss Surgeries Only at "Centers of Excellence" Like Sentara CarePlex Hospital
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Medicare Expands Coverage of Weight Loss Surgeries Only at "Centers of Excellence" Like Sentara CarePlex Hospital 

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Hampton, Virginia - March 3, 2006 - Area seniors can now have more bariatric surgeries covered by Medicare if they select a certified program with high volumes and excellent outcomes.

Sentara CarePlex Hospitals bariactric program fits that bill; it recently received designation as a bariatric surgery Center of Excellence by American Society of Bariatric Surgery (ASBS), by undergoing rigorous review of its clinical quality and surgical outcomes.

In a recent announcement, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded its national coverage of weight loss surgery for all Medicare beneficiariesbut only at centers certified by either American Society of Bariatric Surgery or the American College of Surgeons.

Now weight loss surgeries covered nationally include: laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding and the very rarely performed biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch. Previously only open and laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery was covered.

To qualify patients must be obesehaving a body mass index above 35, have failed other treatments, and suffer from other health problems related to their weight.

All patientsnot just seniors can have peace of mind knowing they are being cared for by a team providing exceptional bariatric care, says general surgeon Anthony D. Terracina, MD, who specializes in weight loss surgeries at Sentara CarePlex Hospital.

"Bariatric surgery is not the first option for obesity treatment, but when performed by expert surgeons it is an important option for some of our beneficiaries," said CMS Administrator Mark B. McClellan, MD, PhD. "While we want to see more evidence on the benefits and risks of this procedure, some centers have demonstrated high success rates and we want to ensure access to the most up-to-date treatment alternatives for our beneficiaries."

Nearly 60 percent of Virginian adults are obese or overweight according to a study by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted in 2002. This represents a 50 percent increase from the previous study conducted in 1995. Serious health effects can occur as a result of being overweight including: elevated cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Sentara CarePlex Hospital, part of the regions premier not-for-profit health care provider Sentara Healthcare, launched a weight loss surgery program for morbidly obese patients in 2003. Since then, more than 750 patients have undergone the procedure.



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