Medicare patients and their doctors are up in arms about a proposed decision that could halt seniors access to heart scans.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued a proposed National Coverage Decision (NCD) for Cardiac Computed Tomography Angiography (CCTA), putting patients with heart disease at risk.
CCTA is a diagnostic noninvasive medical imaging tool used to detect Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), the most common type of heart disease–and the number one killer for both men and women, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is a proven technology used in more than 2,000 centers nationwide and approved by local Medicare carriers in all 50 states.
In 2006, 50,000 patients used CCTA, but beginning March 13th, current and future Medicare beneficiaries will be without access if this NCD is finalized as currently proposed. The only option remaining for patients will be invasive and expensive tests requiring hospitalization.
Rather than cutting off coverage completely, CMS should consider allowing local carrier decisions to remain in place, at least pending approval of the first clinical trial or establishment of an approved registry.
CMS has already closed the public comment period for this decision, but thankfully several Members of Congress have accepted the call to action. Representatives Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4), Joe Pitts (PA-16), and Gene Green (TX-29) have joined together and asked their colleagues to sign-on to a letter they will send to CMS on March 5th. Many other Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate have also weighed in with the agency to express their concerns about the effect this NCD will have on their constituents.