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Medicare Proposes Alcohol, Depression Screening Rules

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 16, 2011

"As is the case with many other professionals, if this funding is not provided for social workers and psychologists, it will become increasingly difficult to provide these much-needed services."

At this writing the  two dozen or so comments posted on depression screening were largely favorable as well, including this one from Avani Shah: "Not only can the combination of systematic strategies for depression recognition in primary care and treatment improve care, but it can also lead to a reduction of medical cost."

And this one from David L. Shern, president/CEO of Mental Health America: "Depression screening is easy and inexpensive. With brief clinical oversight, false positives can be easily eliminated. Effectively recognizing and treating depression will help ensure quality of life and may help to reduce overall medical expenditures."

However, Sara Qualls, director of the Gerontology Center at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, suggested that CMS's proposal may not go far enough.

"Depression screening should be done as part of every physical evaluation, and at times of change in health status as well as in prevention/wellness planning evaluations," she wrote. "Depression screening is the gateway to evaluation and treatment that benefits health directly as well as having indirect impact on health behaviors that predict onset and management of chronic conditions."

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