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Lowenstern A, Hung A, Manandhar P, Wegermann ZK, Kapadia SR, Lindman BR, Goel K, Levack M, Barker CM, Reed SD, Cohen DJ, Vemulapalli S. Association of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement Reimbursement, New Technology Add-on Payment, and Procedure Volumes With Embolic Protection Device Use. JAMA cardiology. 2022 Sep 1; 7(9):945-952.
Importance: In the setting of uncertain efficacy and additional, unreimbursed cost, use of an embolic protection device (EPD) during transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) has had variable uptake. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) instituted a new technology add-on payment to cover EPD use in October 2018. Objective: To evaluate the association between CMS TAVR reimbursement rates and EPD use. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study used the Society for Thoracic Surgeons/American College of Cardiology Transcatheter Valve Therapy registry to identify patients who underwent TAVR between January 2018 and September 2019. Analysis took place between July 2020 and February 2022. Main Outcomes and Measures: The association between EPD use and CMS reimbursement was assessed using multivariable logistic regression models adjusted for patient characteristics (model 1) and patient/hospital (annualized TAVR volume and teaching status) characteristics (model 2). Results: Among 511 institutions, CMS reimbursement for TAVR ranged from $28 062 to $111 280 with a median (IQR) of $45 884 ($40 331-$53 627). Among 84 353 patients (median [IQR] age, 81.0 [75.0-86.0] years; 46 247 male individuals [54.8%]; 3958 [4.7%] of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity; 78 170 White individuals [92.7%]) treated at the sites, 6012 (7.1%) underwent TAVR with EPD. Patient characteristics associated with EPD use included prior stroke (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.13 [95% CI, 1.00-1.27]; P = .048), female sex (aOR, 0.85 [95% CI, 0.78-0.93]; P < .001), hemodialysis (aOR, 0.52 [95% CI, 0.40-0.68]; P < .001), and shock (aOR, 0.62 [95% CI, 0.41-0.94]; P = .03). Higher CMS reimbursement up to $50 000 per TAVR was associated with greater likelihood of EPD use in model 1 (per $1000; aOR, 1.08 [95% CI, 1.01-1.16]; P = .02). However, this association was no longer apparent after adjusting for site characteristics (model 2; aOR, 1.03 [95% CI, 0.96-1.11]; P = .38). Higher TAVR volume was associated with increased EPD use (per 25 TAVRs; aOR, 1.15 [95% CI, 1.09-1.21]; P < .001). There was no significant change in the odds of EPD uptake before vs after institution of the CMS new technology add-on payment across tertiles of CMS TAVR reimbursement (Wald 2 = 3.59; P = .17). Conclusions and Relevance: EPD use during TAVR remains infrequent and is associated with multiple patient and site characteristics. While CMS reimbursement varies significantly across institutions, TAVR case volume, rather than CMS TAVR reimbursement or the CMS new technology add-on payment, appears to be the predominant factor associated with EPD use. Ongoing work is needed to understand the economic drivers that contribute to the association between procedural volume and EPD use.