The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS; Baltimore) said it would expand coverage of cochlear implant devices to help treat severe hearing loss.

Cochlear implants are used to treat bilateral pre- or post-linguistic, sensorineural, moderate-to-profound severe hearing loss.

Medicare previously covered cochlear implants for beneficiaries with open-set sentence recognition test scores of 30% correct or worse.

Under the latest decision, CMS said it would cover cochlear implants in beneficiaries who have test scores of 40% or less correct and in beneficiaries who have open-set sentence recognition test scores greater than 40% up to 60%, if they are participating in a clinical trial of cochlear implantation that meets the requirements outlined in the national coverage decision.

"This decision provides a way to better quality of life for many beneficiaries who did not previously qualify for Medicare coverage of a cochlear implant, and it will help us learn whether even more can benefit significantly," Mark McClellan, MD, CMS administrator said in a statement.