Cuts to Phototherapy Halted, Access Preserved
Thanks to comments from hundreds of physicians, patients and concerned citizens, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has halted major cuts to phototherapy reimbursements. The final reimbursements to doctors offering phototherapy in 2014 will be much less severe than originally proposed.
CMS had proposed reducing reimbursement rates for more than 200 treatment codes, including phototherapy. The proposal would have reduced phototherapy reimbursement by 50 to 60 percent. Numerous physicians expressed concerns that such drastic cuts would prompt many dermatologists to stop offering phototherapy.
"If they can't be reimbursed (enough) by Medicare, they're losing money doing it," said Dr. Colby Evans, an Austin, Texas-based dermatology and board member of the National Psoriasis Foundation. "And that may result in a substantial drop in access to care."
National Psoriasis Foundation, physicians, psoriasis patients and other concerned citizens sent the agency hundreds of comments urging CMS to reconsider. CMS decided not to move forward with these cuts as planned and spend further time reconsidering the proposal. In 2014 physicians providing phototherapy to patients on Medicare will see a 9 percent drop in their reimbursement rate.
CMS indicated that the decision was due to the "many thoughtful and detailed technical comments."
However, the new policy is not final. CMS still believes the payment rates are too high. National Psoriasis Foundation anticipates there will be further proposed cuts and intends to continue to fight to preserve phototherapy as an accessible treatment.
"Phototherapy is one of the safest and most cost-effective therapies for psoriasis and is a front-line therapy option for certain subsets of psoriasis patients with limited treatment options, including children, pregnant women, nursing women, and immunosuppressed patients," said Leah Howard, director of government relations and advocacy for the Foundation. "We want to ensure that it remains accessible to all the individuals who rely on to manage their disease."