January 6, 2009 / 9:58 PM / in 11 years

Medicare proposes wider cancer scan coverage

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. health officials proposed paying for wider use of PET scans to help doctors decide the initial course of treatment in some cancer patients, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said on Tuesday.

CMS said in a draft proposal that it would allow most Medicare patients to undergo one positron emission tomography (PET) scan, though exceptions may be made for certain cancers.

The agency already allows the scans for cancer patients but requires doctors and patients to enroll in a special registry. Under the proposal, patients could undergo one scan without registering but would have to enroll for future scans.

Easing the requirement is likely to impact PET scan makers such as General Electric Co, Siemens AG and Philips Electronics NV.

The agency is accepting public comments on the proposal until February 5 and plans to issue a final decision in April.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; editing by Carol Bishopric

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