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Medicare will now cover screening and counseling for alcohol misuse, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced. Screening for depression will also be covered, according to Consumer Reports.

Marvin M. Lipman, MD, Chief Medical Adviser to Consumer Reports, noted that asking a single question such as, “How often do you have more than five drinks a night?” can help doctors identify problem drinkers.

The new CMS policy covers yearly alcohol misuse screening by primary care providers, such as a family practice physician, internal medicine physician, or nurse practitioner, in settings such as a doctor’s office. According to a CMS news release, the benefit also includes four behavioral counseling sessions a year by the patient’s primary care provider, if he or she screens positive for alcohol misuse.


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