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Saturday, December 28, 2002


It is a pathetic reflection of the medical industry in this country when we have to have a debate about whether or not doctors and hospitals should provide a new potentially life saving device when providing it will put a financial strain on the medical profession. This is so twisted. Thing is, though, I have a sneaking suspicion this happens more than we actually hear.

It's a tiny device known as "drug-eluting stent," made byJohnson & Johnson. It is used on heart patients during angioplasty surgery. It's an improvement over the current stent in use in that it is coated with a drug that prevents future scaring by seeping into surrounding tissue. That's a big deal.

According to an article in today's State Journal Register (Stent will save lives but cost hospitals: Medicare won't compensate facilities), two Springfield medical institutions made the front page of this past Tuesday's Wall Street Journal. According to one of the institutions, the problem lies with Medicare:

But because the federal government's Medicare program for elderly and disabled people will not fully reimburse hospitals for the cost of providing the stents, the high profits that St. John's and other hospitals generate from their cardiovascular programs nationwide will drop, [James] Zito said.

Fortunately, the two Springfield institutions support the use of the new stent regardless of what Medicare will pay.

Okay, here are my questions: One, what's in it for Medicare to deny full reimbursement? Two, what other potentially life saving products have been shelved because of this issue? Three, doctors, money, doctors, money? I could go on, but The Shining just started on Superstation and I must watch.

Posted by Marie at December 28, 2002 11:43 PM