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Cardiovascular Coalition Responds to NYT Op-Ed on Limb Salvage and PAD Treatment

Nov 29, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the CardioVascular Coalition (CVC) – a coalition of physicians, care providers, advocates, and manufacturers — is highlighting a recent op-ed published in the New York Times entitled, ‘My Patient Did Not Have to Die the Way She Did’.

The CVC is grateful to the New York Times for calling attention to the importance of limb salvage work and treating patients with peripheral artery disease. However, even more important than standardized practices to help patients with PAD, it’s critical that patients have access to limb salvage in all sites of services, including in office-based settings which are critical for rural and underserved patients. Unfortunately, ongoing cuts to office-based specialty care under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule are threatening access to limb salvage providers. Congress must pass the Providing Relief and Stability for Medicare Patients Act of 2023 (H.R. 3674) in order to ensure adequate access to limb salvage services.

Vascular & interventional radiology specialist Jerry Niedzwiecki, MD, said, “The sad truth is that the continuous decline in Medicare reimbursements for office-based specialists not only contributes to the consolidation of the healthcare system but also exacerbates healthcare disparities and barriers to accessing care. Medicare reimbursement cuts significantly impact "limb savers" like interventional cardiologists, interventional radiologists, and vascular surgeons who are key in preventing amputations, especially in community clinics that play a key role in serving minority communities. Office-based limb salvage providers are crucial in providing care to at-risk patients, thereby reducing amputations and lessening the financial strain on the healthcare system. We can reverse these trends and better serve patients if Congress will act to pass the Providing Relief and Stability for Medicare Patients Act of 2023 (H.R. 3674).”

Highlights from the NYT Op-Ed:

  • A lack of oversight and standardization in treatment has led to too many unnecessary and inappropriate procedures. Medicine needs a standard for treating advanced peripheral artery disease and an incentive structure to enforce it so that hospitals and doctors amputate only as a last resort.

  • Having a more standardized and enforced approach to treating peripheral artery disease could not only save millions of lives, but also millions of dollars, for Medicare, which covers most of these patients. There are already task forces that are trying to establish standardized practices, including the Society for Vascular Surgery or the Congressional Peripheral Artery Disease Caucus, but we need to accelerate the work and test the models with urgency.

  • The underlying problem is that the health care system is not providing equitable treatment to this population. My patient did not have to die the way she did. We should work together to create a gold standard of care to treat patients with peripheral artery disease, no matter the color of their skin.

You can read the entire op-ed here.

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