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Medicare Announces Expanded Coverage for Warfarin Patients Monitoring Clotting Time at Home
Date:3/19/2008

Decision makes convenient self-testing a financial reality for more

anticoagulation patients

INDIANAPOLIS, March 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Medicare Part B will now cover and pay for meter training, equipment and supplies for all long-term warfarin users who monitor their prothrombin time at home with a portable handheld meter. The change opens the door to greater convenience and potentially fewer complications for a broader spectrum of anticoagulation patients.

Medicare previously reimbursed these expenses 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.

"This expanded coverage will give more warfarin patients the flexibility to test when and where they want," said Dr. Alan Jacobson, cardiologist, Loma Linda University School of Medicine. "Now, patients who travel extensively or who have difficulty with access to their doctor's office or a centralized location can monitor their INR at home. If they test more often, it's easier to manage their therapy and keep their medication in the therapeutic range."

Some patients travel to their doctor's office or an anti-coagulation clinic as often as once a week to make sure their warfarin is appropriately regulated. While warfarin is commonly prescribed to prevent thrombosis, or blood clots, it must also be carefully monitored to prevent bleeding.

Portable, handheld prothombin time (PT/INR) meters, like the CoaguChek(R) XS System for Patient Self-Testing, enable patients to test their clotting time at home in about a minute, using a small drop of blood from a simple fingerstick. Currently, in the United States, less than 5 percent of patients on blood thinners perform self-testing, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Studies suggest that anticoagulation patients who self-test may experience
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SOURCE Roche Diagnostics
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