Medicare aims to level reimbursement playing field in fight between Elekta and Varian

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Elekta logo

A new proposal from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would help level at least 1 battlefield between radiosurgery devices makers Elekta (STO:EKTA B) and Varian Medical Systems (NYSE:VAR).

The reimbursement proposal would offer equal payment to healthcare providers conducting single-treatment radiosurgery for brain tumors, whether the procedure is conducted with Elekta’s Gamma Knife or Varian’s Linac.

The decision would reverse a 2012 measure, supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), which would cut payments for Elekta’s technology.

The new proposal would apply only to single-session treatments with either system, offering clinics $8,500 in reimbursement in 2014.

Gamma Knife operations more frequently fit the single-session profile, with Linac procedures often requiring 3-5 sessions, according to the Wall Street Journal. Multi-session procedures with Linac are set at about $2,300 per session and the pay rate isn’t slated to change.

"By addressing the reimbursement levels for all types of stereotactic radiosurgery, the proposed approach will likely help ensure that patients and their treating physicians have meaningful access to the most clinically appropriate treatments," Elekta told reporters.

The new rule would effectively undo a lobbying push launched by Varian in efforts to undermine Medicare reimbursement for the Gamma Knife, according to the Journal. Varian last year beefed up its lobbying team and managed to, on the eve of 2013, insert into the fiscal cliff bill a provision that would have cut Gamma Knife reimbursement by nearly 60%.

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