Another Organization Targets CMS

Originally Published MDDI March 2002NEWS & ANALYSIS Robert Drummond

March 1, 2002

3 Min Read
Another Organization Targets CMS

Originally Published MDDI March 2002


Robert Drummond

0203d20d.jpgIn mid-February, the Indiana Medical Device Manufacturers Council (IMDMC) announced its 2002 Medicare policy agenda, which focuses on speeding access to medical device innovation. The IMDMC looks critically at Medicare policies and offers recommendations for harmonizing the duplicative device review processes of FDA and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

In a paper outlining its goals, the IMDMC says that Medicare has become overly complex, that it "suffers from cumbersome policy machinery that often thwarts innovation and delays patient access to life-saving and quality-improving medical care." For all the national attention being paid to ensuring broader access to healthcare, the organization argues, there has been too little attention focused on issues that affect device innovation—chief among them Medicare's benefits package.

According to Stephen Ferguson, executive vice president and chief operating officer of IMDMC member company Cook Group Inc. (Bloomington, IN), today's patients "increasingly understand that a gap exists between what is medically beneficial and what Medicare will pay for."

The organization has brought its arguments to Capitol Hill, though according to IMDMC general counsel Bradley M. Thompson, the reception there has been less than warm. "They're interested in talking about restructuring Medicare, but it's not on the top of their list," he says. "They're more interested in the here-and-now."

Adding to the political distractions are the upcoming elections. "People say that with election-year politics, there won't be any fundamental reforms, and they're probably right," Thompson says. "But there are also sometimes interesting bills that get through in an election year. I think there are some good things that can still be done."

Even in the absence of broad Medicare reform, Thompson adds, there are other avenues the IMDMC can pursue. One such issue is the relationship between FDA and CMS. "The Hill seems interested in exploring that," Thompson says. One likely reason for this is that HHS's reform committee has a subcommittee focusing on FDA/CMS coordination. "A lot of people are talking about it," Thompson says, "but not a lot of people have come up with a proposal for how to reconcile those two different medical technology review processes." Toward that end, the IMDMC is working to "drill down to another level of detail and rigor" its view on those concepts.

IMDMC has one more complaint for CMS. The so-called "Open-Door" forums that CMS announced last November— in which each of the major healthcare groups will have an opportunity for open dialogue with CMS—did not include device manufacturers among the major constituents. "We take this as a commentary that to CMS, manufacturers aren't stakeholders in the same way as providers, insurers, or suppliers," Thompson says. "We think that's an oversight, and we plan to raise with anyone who will listen the notion that the manufacturing community is a legitimate stakeholder in the payment processes."

The IMDMC policy agenda, entitled "A Vision for Medicare Reform: Better Healthcare for Patients, Better Economy for Healthcare," is available on-line at

Copyright ©2002 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry

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