The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services today issued their final National Coverage Decision on how hospitals will be approved to do the TAVR (transaortic valve replacement) procedure, a less invasive valve replacement treatment that avoids open heart surgery and allows patients to resume daily life more quickly.
“CMS’s decision to judge hospitals on volume, rather then quality outcomes, will further deny patient access to this innovative procedure. This is despite seven years of data showing that lower volume hospitals and higher volume hospitals have nearly equal outcomes,” said Lisa M Tate, interim executive director for Heart Valve Voice.
“Seniors living in rural areas, African Americans and Hispanics are particularly impacted by today’s decision. The majority of hospitals that offer TAVR will continue to primarily be urban teaching hospitals. Currently, of more than 80,000 TAVR procedures conducted in the U.S., 95% of patients have been white and 70% lived in higher income zip codes.
CMS’ decision will only exacerbate the already great disparities in who will have access to TAVR.”
Heart Valve Voice is a nonprofit patient education and advocacy organization for people living with heart valve disease.