Last month we reported that the Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) was proposing to cut reimbursement for vascular access centers effective January 2019. We’re pleased to report now that CMS is delaying any cuts as it studies the matter further.

In recent years, CMS has pushed for “site-neutral payments,” meaning that Medicare pays the same for procedures regardless of whether they are performed in a doctor’s office or a more costly hospital setting. Specifically, this means paying at the lowest rate. In the case of vascular surgery for dialysis access, CMS proposed to pay the “office-based” rate, which would not suffice to keep vascular access centers in business.

DPC’s letter to CMS stressed that vascular surgeons create and maintain arteriovenous fistulas, which is considered a best practice in kidney care and has prevented infections and saved countless lives over the past decade. CMS stated that since they only have one year of data on vascular access outcomes, it is premature to change payments at this time.