Congress did the right thing

Modern Healthcare - - OPINIONS | LETTERS -

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.

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