Sunday, 6 January 2013

Will Neuropathy Diagnosis Go Over The Fiscal Cliff?

 Today's post comes from the Neuropathy Association E-news letter for November 2012 (see link below) and highlights a potentially very difficult time for neuropathy patients in the United States. Hopefully solutions can be found, now that plunging off the fiscal cliff has been temporarily averted but these sort of spending cuts are just the sort that will remain on the statute books irrespective of macro decision making in Washington. Not that EMGs are the be all and end all of neuropathy testing (a patient's account of symptoms is more often than not enough to confirm diagnosis) but EMGs and the like are useful tools in establishing the extent of neuropathic damage and certainly in measuring its progress. If you are living in the USA it may well be worth reading and supporting this  campaign by the Neuropathy Association.


Tina Tockarshewsky November 2012

Dear Friend,

A clear and present danger for our community is now upon us, and your support is essential.

It was recently announced in the 2013 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that reimbursement payments to physicians for needle electromyography (EMG) tests and nerve conduction studies (NCSs) will be severely reduced by 30%-70% beginning on January 1, 2013. EMG and NCSs are the primary diagnostic tools for peripheral neuropathy as well as other neuromuscular diseases like ALS, MS, and Parkinson’s. Implementing these cuts will deny millions access to proper diagnosis and care.

We are hearing from many physicians that they will no longer be able to afford to practice neuromuscular medicine...and many currently in practice will simply stop seeing Medicare patients!

This Neurological Fiscal Cliff Will Hurt Neuropathy Patients!
This is a crisis unlike any we have ever known before…and is a potential game changer for ALL patients and medical professionals working with the neuropathy community. Early diagnoses will be reduced and misdiagnoses will increase. Patient access and care will suffer, exacerbating the challenges already facing neuropathy patients.

A 2010 poll by The Neuropathy Association showed that many patients already face significant delays in diagnosis, during which irreparable nerve damage continues:

Neuropathy Diagnosis 2012
Two Ways You Can Help
First: In the coming days, we will announce a process for contacting members of Congress and posting comments on these proposed changes on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website. Please watch your emails for this announcement and respond immediately. Please also know that we are working with our medical professional society partners to respond to this crisis.
And keep in mind that other insurers follow Medicare’s actions. So, even if you are not on Medicare, this change has the potential to impact everyone in the neuropathy community.

Second: Support our year-end fundraising efforts, and KEEP US IN THE FIGHT. In these difficult times for the economy and the Association, your generous contributions are our lifeline – and help protect your interests as well as those of untold numbers of future patients.
Thank you for taking action.

Neurologists to See Cuts in 2013 Medicare Payments
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released new code values that could result in decreased payments to neurologists. Specifically, physicians who provide nerve conduction and needle EMG services will face dramatic cuts of more than 50 percent for some services starting January 1, 2013. This is a drastic cut that will be especially hard on neurology practices large and small, many of which rely on these services to meet their bottom line. Patients also will pay the price with less access to these services. Private health insurers often follow Medicare payment rules as well, which will exacerbate the situation.
- American Academy of Neurology

Editor’s Note: Please refer to the President and CEO's message above for more information about this breaking issue that negatively impacts access to critical evaluation and care for people with neuropathy, and how The Neuropathy Association is working with the American Academy of Neurology, the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine, and the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation to address this issue.

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