Letter to the Editor Re: “Medicare Bills Rise For Stents Put Into Limbs”


The following letter was submitted to the New York Times in response to an article titled Medicare Bills Rise For Stents Put Into Limbs:

As President and a Founding Member of the Outpatient Endovascular and Interventional Society (OEIS), I am writing in response to an article published in the January 30, 2015 issue of the New York Times titled “Medicare Bills Rise For Stents Put Into Limbs”.

The OEIS is a national multispecialty society comprised of interventional radiologists, interventional cardiologists, and vascular surgeons. The organization was formed to establish standards of safety, appropriateness, and quality of procedures performed in office interventional suites. Our society promotes the highest ethical standards and stands against abuses, placing the patient first in decision making.

The article fails to capture the extraordinary value that minimally invasive peripheral vascular procedures — delivered in the outpatient setting — provide to both the patient and taxpayer.

The article’s conclusion, which attributes to a 66% increase in opening blood vessels among Medicare patients to unnecessary and over-utilized procedures, is grossly inaccurate.  Actually, the number of arterial cases has remained relatively flat since 2005, while peripheral cases have risen due to an increase in vein closure cases involving varicose veins, which do not include the use of a stent as suggested in your headline.

The real story is that physician specialists treating patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD) in this clinically advanced, patient-preferred setting are on the forefront of preventative and interventional medicine, providing patients with less surgical trauma, shorter recovery times, and fewer complications without reducing clinical efficacy or quality. Further, the shift to same day office interventions is an effort to deliver care in a cost-effective outpatient setting.

For patients, data has shown this approach results in fewer complications and higher patient satisfaction.

As a multispecialty society formed specifically to promote the responsible delivery of quality care by outpatient and office based vascular physicians and centers, we are proud to be part of this transformation in healthcare and are committed to establishing standards of care and best practices to ensure that all patients receive effective, safe and appropriate care.

Our organization appreciates the opportunity to provide the above comments relative to this critical issue.

By: Dr. Jeffrey G. Carr