CHICAGO – As Medicare transitions to a value-based model that uses bundled payments, oncologic surgeons and medical institutions may want to take a close look at enhanced recovery pathways and more minimally invasive surgery for colectomy in both benign and malignant disease to close potential gaps in reimbursement and outcomes, according to a retrospective study of 4-year Medicare data presented at the Society of Surgical Oncology Annual Cancer Symposium here.
The study evaluated reimbursement rates of three Medicare Severity–Diagnosis Related Groups (MS-DRG) assigned to the study cohort of 10,928 cases in the Medicare database from 2011-2015: 331 (benign disease), 330 (colon cancer/no metastases), and 329 (metastatic colon cancer). “There is little data comparing the relative impact of MS-DRG on cost and reimbursement for oncologic versus benign colon resection as it relates to the index admission, post-acute care costs, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services total costs,” Dr. Hughes said.
With descriptive statistics, the study showed that benign resection resulted in higher average total charges than malignant disease ($66,033 vs. $60,581, respectively; P less than .001) and longer hospital stays (7.25 days vs. 6.92; P less than .002), Dr. Hughes said. However, Medicare reimbursements were similar for both pathology groups: $10,358 for benign disease versus $10,483 for oncologic pathology (P = .434). Cancer patients were about 25% more likely to be discharged to a rehabilitation facility than were those in the benign group (16.6% vs. 12.4%, respectively; P less than .001).
“What we know from other data is that, compared to fee-for-service for surgical colectomies, a value-based payment model resulted in lower payments for the index admission,” Dr. Hughes said. “A greater proportion of these patients also contributed to a negative margin for hospitals when compared to the fee-for-service model, as well as a higher risk across acute care services.”
Of patients in the study cohort, 67% had surgery for malignant disease. Both benign and malignant groups had more open colectomies than minimally invasive colectomies: 60% and 36.8%, respectively, of procedures in the benign group and 63% and 40% in the cancer group (P less than .001).