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Cardiologists Warn Proposed Changes Would Close Outpatient Cardiac Cath Labs
Date:6/3/2008

ished. Medicare beneficiaries currently pay $326 for a catheterization procedure performed in a non-hospital lab while out-of-pocket costs for the same procedure in a hospital outpatient lab total $839.

"I'm concerned the severe reimbursement cuts initiated by CMS for non- hospital outpatient cardiac catheterization lab procedures will threaten access and quality for the Medicare beneficiaries in my state and throughout the nation," said U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.). "I believe CMS should establish reasonable reimbursement that will allow these important patient care facilities to stay in business."

Ironically, while the proposed changes would significantly lower payments to non-hospital labs, hospitals performing the same procedure continue to receive increased reimbursement. Since 2006, hospitals have experienced a 25 percent increase in reimbursement for outpatient cardiac catheterizations even though research has shown that a hospital lab's cost structure is the same as that of a non-hospital lab.

Despite similar procedure costs, hospitals typically charge more to perform a cardiac catheterization. Non-hospital outpatient facilities can deliver the same service at a lower cost to the payor and the patient while providing enhanced convenience and better access to care.

"Our facility offers patients a quiet, convenient environment and a location that better meets their needs than a hospital-based facility, which must give priority to emergency patients," said Bruce E. Murphy, M.D., president of the Little Rock Cardiology Clinic. "Additionally, we have all of the tools clinicians need to expedite their diagnoses, which allows the physician to spend more time with the patient discussing options for treatment."

"The simple reality is that if CMS doesn't fix this problem quickly many of the more than 90 outpatient cath labs around the country will be forced to close," said Blades. "Until the government recognizes non-hospital c
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SOURCE Cardiovascular Outpatient Center Alliance
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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