Congress did the right thing
There were a number of important points omitted in your look at the recent fiscal cliff deal (“A little extra in the fiscal cliff deal,” Feb. 4, p. 24) that deserve to be clarified.
Most importantly, the healthcare provision at the center of the editorial is good public policy with bipartisan support. It will save Medicare and taxpayers $300 million over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The legislation equalizes brain radiosurgery reimbursement for treatments with similar patient outcomes and reversed an improper reimbursement change in 2007 that never should have been adopted in the first place.
This is precisely the kind of public policy that members of Congress should support and enact into law. A legislative solution was appropriate in this case because the CMS was prohibited by law from making this fix. This returns Varian and all other linear accelerator manufacturers to an equal footing with Elekta’s cobalt technology.
Additionally, leading medical experts report similar results in brain radiosurgery whether it is performed using linear accelerators or cobalt technology. Each is commonly used for performing brain radiosurgery in a single session with a similar outcome. It makes sense then for each device to have an equal Medicare reimbursement.
Congressional action in this case to save Medicare millions, to create fair competition and level the playing field for American companies, and to correct an artificially inflated reimbursement rate at a time when all parties to the healthcare system are looking for ways to reduce costs, was not only the right policy, it was also the right thing to do.
Spencer Sias Vice president of corporate
communications Varian Medical Systems
Palo Alto, Calif.