HomeFocus → Hospitals battle for control of lucrative heart valve procedure

Hospitals battle for control of lucrative heart valve procedure Print E-mail
Written by Phil Galewitz | KHN   
Friday, 24 August 2018 17:04
When Medicare in 2011 agreed to pay for a revolutionary procedure to replace leaky heart valves by snaking a synthetic replacement up through blood vessels, the goal was to offer relief to the tens of thousands of  patients too frail to endure open-heart surgery, the gold standard. To help ensure good results, federal officials limited Medicare payment only to hospitals that serve large numbers of cardiac patients. The strategy worked. In the past seven years, more than 135,000 mostly elderly patients have undergone transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR. And TAVR's in-hospital mortality rate has dropped by two-thirds, to 1.5 percent.  
Now, in a campaign motivated by a muddy mix of health care and business, smaller hospitals and the medical device industry are arguing that  the technique should be more widely deployed. They note only about half of the nearly 1,100 hospitals offering surgical valve replacement can do TAVR. And they say current limitations discriminate against minorities and people in rural areas, forcing patients to undergo a riskier and significantly more invasive treatment - or miss getting a new valve altogether.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 September 2018 06:56

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