Understanding shifts in Medicare preventive services

Changes in the Affordable Care Act place greater emphasis on preventive medicine in primary care.

BOSTON – With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, changes to Medicare place greater emphasis on preventive medicine in primary care.

“There is an essential benefit for prevention, and we've never really had that to rely on,” Beth Grivett, PA-C, told Clinical Advisor at the American Academy of Physician Assistants IMPACT 2014 meeting.

“When we're looking at preventive services, now we can be assured that we can look up any preventive service, and know what's going to be covered and what's going to be available to patients.”

The United States Preventive Task Force (USPTF) conducts evidence-based reviews of a broad range of preventive health care services (such as screening, counseling, and preventive medications) and develops recommendations for primary care clinicians and health systems.

“Most of the recommendations intuitively make sense, but when you delve into it, people really aren't sure who should be screened,” said Grivett.

Electronic resources are available to help healthcare practitioners determine what preventive services are available, including an app from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality called the Electronic Preventive Services Selector, which Grivett recommends PAs utilize.

New preventive care measures include an initial visit, where PCPs talk with patients to discover acute issues, before an annual physical. In many cases, tests aren't administered at this visit.

Grivett urges PAs to work with patients to decipher what tests are available to them, because all testing isn't recommended for all patients. “You really need to refer to the guidelines, so you know what's really covered.”

For more resources on implementing USPTF recommendations, visit the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force website

References

  1. Grivett B. “Medicare Annual Wellness Visit: How PAs Can Help Patients Understand Medicare Preventive Services.” Presented at: AAPA Meeting. Boston; May 23-28.
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