In January 2007, in the United States (US), Medicare initiated a series of cuts to reimbursement for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) services performed in the nonfacility setting that by January 2010 reduced payments for these services by more than 60% compared with 2006 levels. The objectives of this study were to determine if a temporal association exists between Medicare Physician Fee Schedule changes in office-based DXA reimbursement and attendance at educational conferences for osteoporosis, physicians' perceptions of changes in their medical practices, or national trends in retail prescription medications for osteoporosis in those aged 65 and older. Compared with the 2 yr before the decline in Medicare reimbursement for DXA (2005-2006), attendance at educational meetings for osteoporosis in the US declined in the 2 yr after these cuts (2007-2008) by 6%; declines in attendance were only present in meetings selective for bone densitometry. Survey participants reported changes in DXA services with approximately one-third indicating that they had either decreased the number of DXAs they performed or declined service contracts or hardware/software updates compared with 2005-2006. The number of retail prescriptions for Food and Drug Administration-approved osteoporosis drugs (excluding estrogen compounds and raloxifene) in the age 65 and older population increased by 5.5% in the time period 2007-2008 compared with 2005-2006. However, in the last year of the study (2008), total retail prescriptions for these drugs experienced for the first time over the interval of the study, a decline (1.4%) compared with the previous year. This occurred despite a 2.6% increase in the US population age 65 and older. In conclusion, there were temporal associations noted between Medicare cuts in DXA payments in attendance at educational conferences for bone densitometry, self-report of office-based provision of DXA services in the US, and retail prescriptions for osteoporosis therapies.
Copyright © 2010 The International Society for Clinical Densitometry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.