Medicare won't fund MRIs for patients with new MRI-safe pacemakers

St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 28, 2011

Hospitals across the country have been cranking out news releases this week about patients who are among the first to receive a new MRI-safe pacemaker from Medtronic. But Medicare patients with the devices might get stuck with the bill should they need an MRI, doctors say. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a memorandum saying Medicare still won't pay for MRIs in patients who have pacemakers -- including those with devices deemed MRI-safe. In the memorandum, CMS officials said the health insurance program will start paying for scans in pacemaker patients who participate in certain clinical trials. But government reviewers didn't have time to pass judgment on the new Medtronic product, which is called Revo and was approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month. For years, Medicare has had a policy denying payment for MRI exams in pacemaker patients due to safety concerns about how the technologies interact.

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