National Coverage Determination (NCD)

Treatment of Drug Abuse (Chemical Dependency)


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Tracking Information

Publication Number
Manual Section Number
Manual Section Title
Treatment of Drug Abuse (Chemical Dependency)
Version Number
Effective Date of this Version
This is a longstanding national coverage determination. The effective date of this version has not been posted.

Description Information

Benefit Category
Outpatient Hospital Services Incident to a Physician's Service

Please Note: This may not be an exhaustive list of all applicable Medicare benefit categories for this item or service.

Item/Service Description

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recognizes that there are similarities between the approach to treatment of drug abuse and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation. However, the intensity and duration of treatment for drug abuse may vary (depending on the particular substance(s) of abuse, duration of use, and the patient’s medical and emotional condition) from the duration of treatment or intensity needed to treat alcoholism.

Indications and Limitations of Coverage

Accordingly, when it is medically necessary for a patient to receive detoxification and/or rehabilitation for drug substance abuse as a hospital inpatient, coverage for care in that setting is available. Coverage is also available for treatment services that are provided in the outpatient department of a hospital to patients who, for example, have been discharged from an inpatient stay for the treatment of drug substance abuse or who require treatment but do not require the availability and intensity of services found only in the inpatient hospital setting. The coverage available for these services is subject to the same rules generally applicable to the coverage of outpatient hospital services. (See the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual (BPM), Chapter 6, “Hospital Services Covered Under Part B,” §§20.) The services must also be reasonable and necessary for treatment of the individual’s condition. (See the Medicare BPM, Chapter 16, “General Exclusions from Coverage,” §90.) Decisions regarding reasonableness and necessity of treatment, the need for an inpatient hospital level of care and length of treatment, should be `made by A/B Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) based on accepted medical practice with the advice of their medical consultant. (In hospitals under Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) review, QIO determinations of medical necessity of services and appropriateness of the level of care at which services are provided are binding on A/B MACs for purposes of adjudicating claims for payment.)

Cross Reference
Also see the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, Chapter 6 §20, and Chapter 16 §90.

Additional Information

Other Versions
Title Version Effective Between
Treatment of Drug Abuse (Chemical Dependency) 1 01/01/1966 - N/A You are here