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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 24, 2003

Medicare Coverage of Defibrillator Implants Urged

University of Iowa Heart Care specialists say they are pleased by a recommendation that Medicare pay for treating patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators, following a nationwide study they helped conduct.

The federal Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee recently recommended expanding Medicare coverage to include payment for implantable cardioverter defibrillator therapy for patients who have survived a heart attack but have compromised heart function. The committee's recommendation is based upon the results of the Multi-center Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial II, or MADIT II, which concluded in November 2001.

Brian Olshansky, M.D., director of Cardiac Electrophysiology for UI Heart Care and a professor in the UI Department of Internal Medicine, served as an investigator on MADIT II. "The Data Safety Monitoring Board halted MADIT II earlier than planned because the results were so dramatic. Patients enrolled in MADIT II who received defibrillators were 31 percent less likely to die than those who didn't receive a defibrillator," Olshansky said. "This technology clearly saves lives, and having Medicare cover the treatment is a vitally important step."

The Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expand coverage for the use of implantable cardioverter defibrillators. The committee is comprised of clinicians and other medical experts in addition to non-voting industry and consumer representatives. The CMS is not obligated to follow the committee's recommendations, but observers expect that a final decision will be reached within a few months.

The committee's recommendation supports the use of implantable cardioverter defibrillators as "reasonable and necessary" therapy for all Medicare patients who meet the criteria of the MADIT II research trial. The Food and Drug Administration previously approved these defibrillators used in the MADIT II study.

"We know that these devices can make a tremendous difference for our patients, and we look forward to being able to offer this advanced treatment to even more people," Olshansky said.

For more information about the full range of cardiac services provided by the specialists with UI Heart Care, log on to

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Planning, Marketing and Communications, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room 8798 JPP, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

CONTACT: Tom Moore, (319) 356-3945, Writer: Tom Moore

PHOTO: A photo of Brian Olshansky is available for downloading at