Earlier this week, Merrill Goozner may have given us the spot-on scary political reality when he put his touch on the story of Medicare approving new payments for expensive heart scans. Excerpt:
I suspect there will be a lot more of these decisions over the next nine months as Bush administration appointees hoping to line up their next jobs grant top-of-the-wish-list favors to special interests.
The New York Times website reported Wednesday that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has reversed a proposed policy to cut off paying for heart scans, which can cost $600 or more. The preliminary decision announced last December found no clinical evidence that heart scans identify heart disease any better than other non-invasive procedures, like a stress test. According to the paper:
Medicare’s initial proposal, which would have ended payment for the scans unless the patients were enrolled in studies to determine the technology’s effectiveness, had met with fierce resistance from the doctors who perform these scans and the companies that make the equipment. They strongly defended the use of these scans as an important alternative to traditional angiography. ...
Lobbying by docs and equipment makers. Pay first, evidence later. It's the American way.