MEDICARE I: Denies Patients Latest Treatments
Bureaucratic delays and inadequate payments may deny thousands of elderly and disabled Medicare patients access to the latest in medical technology, according to a Lewin Group study prepared for the Advanced Medical Technology Association, the Cox News Service/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. The report found that the delay between a new devices' approval and its acceptance by Medicare can last from 15 months to five years, and patients rarely receive the new technology during that time. "Lack of Medicare coverage for a new device or procedure restricts patient access. Although beneficiaries may pay out-of-pocket for devices that are not adequately covered under Medicare, they are rarely in a position to do so," according to the study. In addition, regional restrictions often prevent patient access to new technology in different areas of the country, the report found, while new Medicare rules will impose more barriers on the approval of new devices for coverage. HCFA had no comment on the study. The report also concluded that Medicare's approval delays and low reimbursement rates impose "substantial" risks on companies that develop and make medical devices, stifling research and development efforts. "The high cost and long timelines that may be required to secure Medicare payment can delay or even prevent new devices with demonstrated clinical value from reaching the market," the study found (Lipman, 8/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.