Senators call for delay in Medicare medical device payment cuts

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Lawmakers are seeking more of a delay for the planned Medicare payment changes that would likely significantly drop levels of reimbursement for widely used medical devices, Dow Jones Market Watch reports.
           
In a letter to the Department of Health & Human Services' Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services Friday, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Max Baucus, (D-Mont.), voiced their worries over the proposed CMS changes regarding payments for inpatient procedures at hospitals. The cuts would likely impact amounts reimbursed for medical devices such as coronary stents and implantable defibrillators. The changes as they stand now would go into effect in October, Market Watch reports.
           
The senators claimed in their letter they have major concerns over the agency’s "proposed methodology and implementation strategy." The core of their worries is directed at two areas, one being the planned shift to a cost-based system from the current charge-based system. In their letter they request more time “to assure an orderly and appropriate implementation of these changes" and request that CMS do more to collaborate with stakeholders on "improving the proposed methodology," Market Watch reports.
           
In estimating the likely impact of the new rules, Scott Ward, president of the vascular business of Medtronic, issued a statement that projected reimbursement cuts for stents could be as high as 24 percent to 34 percent, and for defibrillators cuts could be as high as 22 percent to 24 percent.

JPMorgan analyst Michael Weinstein in response to the letter has stated that he believes it could lead not only to a delay of the agency’s proposal but it has also increased the likelihood that it will be revised, Market Watch reports.