Hospitals face $400M in annual cardiac device costs as Medicare rates lag, study finds

While the use of MRI-compatible cardiac devices has grown significantly in the past 18 months, Medicare continues to reimburse for the more expensive devices at rates standard for those noncompliant with MRIs, according to a report prepared by Vizient.

Medicare patients represent between 70 and 75 percent of all procedures to place pacemakers, defibrillators and other cardiac rhythm devices. Use of MRI-compatible pacemakers in those procedures grew from 12.3 percent in 2016 to 73.6 percent in 2018.

However, an uptick in the cost of CRM devices that are MRI-compliant has increased hospitals' total spend on the devices by 8 percent, as Medicare has not increased what it reimburses for the more expensive devices. This translates to more than $400 million in cost increases for U.S. hospitals each year, according to the report.

"While there is clear clinical benefit to MRI-compatible devices, utilization data suggests that appropriate patient selection will be an important factor in effectively managing overall CRM device spend," according to the report.

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