Medicare: The Trials Of Cardio Coverage
By John Carey
Medicare may not be spending its heart-disease dollars wisely, suggests a study of 141 clinical trials that officials have used to make coverage decisions. Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco medical school found that people in the trials, many of which were conducted abroad, were 75% male and age 60, on average. Most Medicare beneficiaries are female—and 75, on average. What worked in the trials may not work for them, says Dr. Rita Redberg, the study’s lead author, so we’re paying for “a lot of things of unclear benefit.” One example: implanted defibrillators, which, at an average cost of $40,000, prevented cardiac death in trials. Another study, Redberg says, showed they didn’t extend life for Medicare patients.