KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Medicare Agrees To Cover New Tiny Heart Pacemakers

Medtronic's Micra pacemaker is less than 10 percent of the size of a regular pacemaker and is implanted directly in the heart, rather than under skin in the chest. Medicare says it will cover the pacemakers if the use is part of a well-designed study by Medtronic to gather data over a long period of time. Also, federal officials penalize a Minnesota hospital after a 13-year-old who had attempted suicide was able to escape from a psychiatric ward.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Medicare To Cover Implants Of Medtronic's Micra Pacemaker
Medicare will soon cover implants of Medtronic’s tiny new pacemaker, the Micra, when the device is implanted as part of a long-term clinical study. The device received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval last April, to much industry fanfare. But financial analysts say it’s often insurance coverage decisions that determine whether a novel technology succeeds financially, and Medicare is the nation’s largest health insurer. ... A company spokesman said Medicare’s 2017 fee schedule shows the government will pay roughly $14,500 for an outpatient Micra implant vs. $9,200 for a traditional unit. For inpatient procedures, Medicare will pay between $27,700 and $41,000 for a Micra implant vs. $12,500 to $21,600 for a traditional unit. (Carlson, 1/26)

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Medicare Disciplines Fairview Over Patient Runaway
Federal regulators declared a state of "immediate jeopardy" at the University of Minnesota Medical Center last month because the hospital allowed a 13-year-old boy diagnosed with bipolar disorder to run away from one of its psychiatric wards two days after a suicide attempt. Fairview tightened security practices following the Dec. 5 incident, according to a Medicare inspection report released this week, but the boy's parents remain upset about the runaway and other hospital missteps they say endangered their son. (Olson, 1/26)

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