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Proposed Medicare Changes Will Increase Costs to Government, Decrease Options for Patients
Date:10/1/2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Heart patients and cardiologists across the country are reaching out to legislators desperately asking that healthcare access be preserved as discussions about healthcare reform continue.

Changes proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) - scheduled to become law January 1, 2010 - will dramatically impact the accessibility of life-saving cardiology testing and services currently available in cardiology practices. If enacted, cardiologists will be unable to continue offering necessary diagnostic tests in their offices, such as cardiac catheterization and peripheral vascular, forcing patients to seek outpatient care at hospital facilities.

Invasive outpatient cardiology services offered in non-hospital settings were first introduced more than 30 years ago. Since that time, the cardiology community has facilitated measurable advances in cardiovascular technology and outcomes. As access to cutting-edge diagnostic and therapeutic services in non-hospital clinical settings (such as cardiology practices) has increased, patient mortality rates have consistently decreased. The availability of these services outside of the hospital environment saves Medicare tens of millions of dollars each year, and results in much lower out-of-pocket costs for patients as well.

In a sweeping measure that would reverse a four-decade trend of increasing access to cost-effective, non-hospital care, the CMS-proposed changes will reduce reimbursement for select cardiac services offered outside of a hospital-owned facility by as much as 60 percent. The draconian cuts will likely make it impossible for cardiology practices to continue providing these services to Medicare patients.

In a measure that seems counter-productive to healthcare reform, the proposed changes will greatly increase hard costs to Medicare, as the reimbursement rate to hospitals for the same
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SOURCE COCA
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