Medicare’s Policy On Carotid Stents Limited Use To Hospitals Meeting Quality Guidelines Yet Did Not Hurt Disadvantaged

TitleMedicare’s Policy On Carotid Stents Limited Use To Hospitals Meeting Quality Guidelines Yet Did Not Hurt Disadvantaged
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsGroeneveld, Peter W., Andrew J. Epstein, Feifei Yang, Lin Yang, and Daniel E. Polsky
JournalHealth Affairs
Volume30
Pagination312-321
Accession NumberPMID: 21289353
AbstractMedicare began covering the use of carotid stents to treat arterial blockages in 2005 under an innovative policy requiring hospitals to meet quality-of-care benchmarks before seeking reimbursement. By restricting carotid stent provision to a smaller subset of US hospitals than those typically adopting new cardiovascular technologies, this policy could have disproportionately reduced the availability of this technology for minority, low-income, and rural patients. Such patients are often served by hospitals less able than others to meet increasingly stringent quality requirements. However, our analysis of hospitals that provided stents during 2005–07 demonstrated that although 21–38 percent fewer hospitals offered stents than offered other types of interventional cardiovascular procedures, such as heart bypass grafts, stents were no less available in localities with substantial poor, black, or rural populations than they were in other areas. Our study provides important evidence that the carotid stent coverage policy met its goal of limiting the adoption of the technology by hospitals that weren’t well prepared to provide it—while still maintaining equitable availability of the technology. Therefore, it may be a useful model for future Medicare coverage decisions.
URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0320
PMCIDPMCID: PMC3164858