- CMS is proposing to add 12 cardiac catheterization procedures to its coverage list for ambulatory surgical centers (ASC) as the agency looks to accelerate a shift to the lower-cost settings. The changes are part of a broader proposed rule that would revise the Medicare hospital outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) and ASC payment system for 2019.
- CMS estimated that if 5% of cardiac catheterization procedures migrated from the hospital outpatient setting to the ASC setting as a result of the proposed policy, Medicare payments would be reduced by about $35 million in 2019, and total beneficiary co-payments would decline by about $14 million.
- The agency said it has assessed each of the procedures against the regulatory safety criteria and believes they may be appropriately performed in an ASC. CMS is requesting comments from stakeholders on any specific safety concerns related to performing the 12 cardiac catheterization procedures in an ASC, due Sept. 24.
More and more outpatient surgical procedures are being performed at non-hospital facilities such as freestanding ambulatory surgical centers and physician offices, instead of in hospital-based departments. Amid the shift, some hospitals and health systems have acquired ambulatory surgery centers or formed joint ventures with surgeons in these centers.
Cardiac catheterization is often done on an outpatient basis at the hospital to detect or evaluate heart conditions. The procedure involves advancing a small catheter to the heart from a vessel in the groin or the arm. CMS said the 12 cardiac procedures it would add to the ASC coverage list are not expected to require active medical monitoring and care of the patient following the procedure.
CMS said the changes would mean lower costs for patients. Beneficiary coinsurance is always 20% for procedures in ambulatory centers but ranges from 20% to 40% for outpatient procedures performed in hospitals. In addition, ASC payment rates are almost always lower than OPPS rates for the same procedures, CMS said.
Hospitals and surgeons are also watching CMS coverage changes on lucrative total knee replacement procedures. CMS removed total joint replacements from the inpatient-only list in 2018, and in July proposed adding the procedures to the ASC coverage list. CMS is seeking comments on that proposal until Sept. 11.
Jefferies analysts expect CMS will eventually add coverage for knee replacements at ambulatory surgical centers.
"We continue to believe that total knee replacements are likely to be added to the ASC covered procedure list in 2020 or 2021 based on the procedure's removal from the Inpatient-only list in last year's payment rule, and that total and partial hip replacements are likely to soon follow, given that these procedures are routinely performed in ASCs on non-Medicare patients," the analysts said in a research note.