Up until this year, Medicare and Medicaid only covered a patient for participation in cardiac rehab if they had diagnoses of:
• Heart attack within the preceding 12 months
• Coronary artery bypasses surgery within the preceding 6 months
• Current stable angina pectoris (chest pain caused by clogged coronary arteries) with a positive stress test
• Heart valve repair or replacement within the preceding 6 months
• Coronary stenting or angioplasty within the preceding 6 months
• A heart or heart-lung transplant within the preceding 6 months
However, patients with heart failure, a condition where the heart is weakened and not pumping correctly, were not covered.
In 2011, I was honored to serve as t he President of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. In this role, I started the process to appeal to Medicare and Medicaid to consider including patients with heart failure for coverage.
As of February 2014, Medicare and Medicaid cover cardiac rehabilitation for patients with heart failure. Cardiac rehab is a low cost, extremely effective treatment for patients with various types of heart disease and this service is now extended to patients with an ejection fraction (how strongly the heart pumps) of < 35% and are in stable condition.
To see if you are eligible for cardiac rehabilitation, see your cardiologist. If you are, obtain a prescription, and then cal 845-786-4410 to make an appointment to begin cardiac rehabilitation here at Helen Hayes Hospital.
– Dr. Steven Lichtman
Director of Cardiopulmonary Outpatient Services