CMS finalizes decision to cover MRIs for patients with implantable cardiac devices

CMS published a decision memo this week finalizing its proposal to cover MRI scans for Medicare beneficiaries with implantable cardiac devices such as pacemakers and cardioverter defibrillators.

According to the memo, CMS ruled that there is enough evidence to determine that MRIs for patients with these devices is “reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body member … under certain circumstances.” In the past, MRIs were only approved for patients with implantable cardiac devices if taking part in a clinical trial.

To be covered, MRIs for patients with an implantable cardiac device that does not have specific FDA labeling “specific to use in an MRI environment” are only covered when the following conditions are met:

  • The MRI field strength is 1.5 Tesla when using “Normal Operating Mode."
  • The device “has no fractured, epicardial or abandoned leads.”
  • The facility has implemented a seven-item checklist that includes communicating the benefits and harms of the scan to the patient, keeping an advanced cardiac life support provider present during the scan, and five other required actions.

CMS proposed this change on Jan. 11, allowing public comment until Feb. 10.