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April 1, 2008
Medicare Changes Policy to End Reuse of Intermittent Catheters

Medicare beneficiaries will no longer have to reuse intermittent catheters multiple times in a week, thanks in large part to support provided by IDSA to change the policy. 

Under the new policy, Medicare covers enough intermittent catheters so that all beneficiaries will be able to use a catheter only once.  For certain patient populations, sterile catheter kits also are covered. The change took effect April 1.

For decades, Medicare’s policy regarding intermittent catheters covered only one catheter per week, except for very limited patient populations or for beneficiaries who already had sustained two documented and severe urinary tract infections.  This policy was in place despite the fact that the Food and Drug Administration has approved single-use-only labels for all intermittent catheters on the market.

Last May, IDSA sent a letter to Medicare regarding this policy. In the letter, IDSA stated that catheter-associated bacteriuria had been shown to serve as a reservoir of often highly resistant pathogens that can cause infections in other sites.  As a result, catheter-associated UTIs and their sequelae can cause significant morbidity and increased cost to the U.S. health care system, not to mention possible hospitalization for these beneficiaries.  

The policy has been changed by all four Medicare contractors that cover the entire United States with respect to durable medical equipment and supplies.  The four policies are identical. View the revised policy of the National Heritage Insurance Company. 

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