Medicare will pay for warfarin patients home-monitoring

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will now pay for meter training, equipment and supplies for all long-term warfarin users who monitor their own prothrombin time and international normalized ratio results at home with portable meters.

Medicare had previously reimbursed only for patient self-testers who had mechanical heart valves. The new coverage expands to include those on anticoagulant medication with chronic atrial fibrillation and venous thromboembolism.

Studies show that more frequent prothrombin time and international normalized ratio results testing lead to improved clinical outcomes, according to Alan Jacobson, MD, cardiologist at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California.

“The benefits of providing patients with improved access to testing are reductions in strokes, bleeds and deaths,” Jacobson said.

According to a 2006 international meta-analysis led by Carl Heneghan, MD, and published in the Lancet, patient self-monitoring of oral anticoagulation leads to a significant one-third reduction in death from all causes. The study also showed that thromboembolism was decreased by 55 percent, as well as a decrease in major hemorrhage.