Jul 11, 2017

Ankle industry rallies behind Medicare pay raise

Nevit Dilmen / Wikimedia Commons

Large medical device companies and orthopedic surgeons are encouraging Department of Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price to lock in a proposal in which Medicare would pay significantly more for ankle replacement surgeries. The ankle industry's heft is almost certain to make the pay raise official once the final rule is released within the next month.

Why it matters: The first Medicare payment rule overseen by Price, an orthopedic surgeon by training, would steer millions of extra dollars toward his physician colleagues as well as medical device firms that make the screws, implants and other components of ankle replacement surgeries.

The proposal: Clinical advisers at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Medicare should pay more for total ankle replacements in 2018 by moving those surgeries into a higher-paying Medicare code. Average base payment rates for ankle surgeries would increase by 50%, to more than $22,000. Private insurers often follow Medicare's lead and could feel pressured to pay more for the procedures.

What they're saying: The proposal is getting full-throated support from medical device companies that make ankle surgery products, including Stryker, Wright Medical Group and Integra LifeSciences. The Advanced Medical Technology Association and Medical Device Manufacturers Association, two big lobbying groups for medical device manufacturers, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons also urged the federal government to finalize the pay raise.

Doctors and device companies have wanted this change for several years and now are on the brink of getting it with Price and CMS Administrator Seema Verma at the helm. The rule likely will come out no later than the beginning of August.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 1,426,096 — Total deaths: 81,865 — Total recoveries: 300,054Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 396,223 — Total deaths: 12,722 — Total recoveries: 21,763Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship — Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill.
  4. Business latest: America's food heroes in times of the coronavirus crisis. Even when the economy comes back to life, huge questions for airlines will remain.
  5. World latest: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  6. Wisconsin primary in photos: Thousands gathered to cast ballots in-person during the height of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.
  7. 1 Olympics thing: About 6,500 athletes who qualified for the Tokyo Games will keep their spots in 2021.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Airline industry braces for a forever-changed world

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The airline industry got a $58 billion lifeline in the coronavirus federal aid package. But the path is unclear for these companies, whose operations and prospects will be forever changed by the global pandemic.

Why it matters: People may want to minimize travel for the foreseeable future. Investors, analysts and industry watchers are trying to determine how much airlines will need to spend — and how much more in lost revenue they'll see — while they adapt to the new reality.

Trump denies seeing Navarro memos warning about toll of coronavirus

President Trump said at a press briefing Tuesday that he "didn't see" memos from his trade adviser Peter Navarro warning in January and February that the coronavirus crisis could kill more than half a million Americans and cost close to $6 trillion.

Why it matters: Trump insisted that despite not seeing the memos, he did "more or less" what Navarro suggested by banning non-U.S. citizens from traveling from China effective Feb. 2.