Recently, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CSM) decided that they were not only not going to cover TENS units for Chronic Lower Back Pain (CLBP) AFTER they had already told me, and many others, it was covered. They released the New Flash on August 3 which stated that not only were that not going to approve the use of a TENS unit any longer BU T they are making it retroactive to June 8! That means everyone that already had a unit, including me, would essential have to return them. Even more troubling is this change does not have an implementation date until Jan 3, 2013, so if you call Medicare, they still tell you it's covered and many suppliers of the equipment are not even aware of this change.
If you are not sure what a TENS unit is and why it is important, let me explain. For those that suffer from CLBP there are few options to treat the pain, especially when you are young, like I am. The options are as follows: Pain Medication (which leaves you in a fog), Physical Therapy (which may work for some, but not in all cases, like mine), TENS unit (the best way to treat CLBP for me and many others) or Surgery (which no one will do on me because I am "too young"). Surgery is a last options, and even those that find a doctor that will do the surgery, there is a risk that it will make the pain worse or make no difference in the pain.
I received my unit on Aug 3, 2012, and it really has been a life saver for me. Before my unit I was laid up in bed most of the time. It was hard to sit, stand or walk for longer then 20 mins and I was in a good deal of pain, even with pain medication. With my unit, I am nearly back to my old self. As long as I have the unit on I can take my kids to the park again, I can help with chores around the house and be part of my family again. It is unfair to not only stop coverage, but to take away the units from those that already have them and have experienced how much they truly help. As another CLBP sufferer told me, "Medicare deciding to take away coverage for our TENS units is like taking away coverage for wheelchairs".
This is what Medicare has to say about taking away coverage; "After careful consideration, effective for claims with dates of service on or after, June 8, 2012, CMS believes the evidence is inadequate to support coverage of TENS for CLBP as reasonable and necessary. CMS appreciates the significant burden of CLBP on the beneficiary population, which may lead to frustration on the part of patients, their treating practitioners and their caregivers. However, this frustration should not be the underlying reason for coverage of an item or service in circumstances where treatments are not known to be beneficial." This is just flat out horrible for them to do, KNOWING it will upset people. If someone is "frustrated" by this decision it is because it really works and helps them a lot!
CSM cited a study done by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), which they claim proves that the TENS unit does not work for CLBP. I ask Medicare, why don't you listen to your patients, "frustrated" ones, the ones BEGGING to have their units covered, because they can't live a full functional live without their units. The ones that don't want to go back to heavy pain medication and the horrible side effects they cause. It's really easy to make this kind of decision when it doesn't effect you.
Medicare guidelines used to state that you could receive a unit, paid for by them, if you had Chronic pain and all other treatment options have failed. Well they have for me, and I know many, many others. So I humbly ask that you sign this petition so that we can get the attention of CSM and hope they reverse their decision. The quality of people lives depend on this! Thank you