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Medicare Committee Statement on Open/Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery
Report on Safety and Efficacy of Weight Loss Surgery
Medicare Advisory Panel Concludes Weight Loss Surgery Safe and Effective for Morbidly Obese Patients
The Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee (MCAC) concluded that there is significant scientific evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of open and laparoscopic weight loss surgery and its ability to improve a number of life-threatening obesity related conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in the general adult population. They added that more research is needed, however, in people 65 and older.
"We are pleased that the MCAC panel has so decisively affirmed the safety and effectiveness of open and laparoscopic weight loss surgery and we look forward to working with Medicare to help them provide the best coverage and gather the best data on individuals 65 and older, without limiting the access to care for people who are morbidly obese," said Harvey Sugerman, MD, President, American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) and Emeritus Professor of Surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
The MCAC recommendations will not affect current Medicare policy, which covers weight loss surgery for morbidly obese patients with an obesity-related or co-morbid condition. A change in Medicare coverage criteria requires a request for a new National Coverage Decision, which the Society will be submitting to improve the consistency of coverage.
In July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) removed language in the Medicare Coverage Issues Manual stating that obesity was not an illness.
The MCAC meeting comes on the heels of a report issued by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHQR) who concluded that weight loss surgery for morbidly obese patients who have tried and failed to lose weight with exercise and diet may be more effective for weight reduction and improve control of obesity-related illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
The MCAC panel reviewed data including a recent study published in October in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that found that weight loss surgery improved or eliminated diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea and high cholesterol in the vast majority of morbidly obese patients.
In addition, a major study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons in October, showed that after one year, survival was improved by 33% for those that had weight loss surgery versus those that did not. In the longer term, after 15 years, 11.8% of the operated patients had died, compared to 16.3% of the non-operated group.
Medicare data from 2003 shows that the 30-day risk of death from weight loss surgery was 0.8% compared to total joint replacement which was 2% and coronary bypass surgery which was 3%.
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Laparoscopic or open bariatric surgery, such as gastric banding or bypass is not an easy solution to morbid obesity and weight loss. It is a serious surgical procedure, involving health risks. To produce lasting weight loss it requires a long-term patient commitment to eating a healthy diet and following a regular program of physical exercise. Life-long use of nutritional supplements may also be necessary. So, before deciding, discuss your options fully with your doctor. © 2003-2017 Bariatric-Surgery.Info - Terms - Contact - Information - Resources