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Research: Hospital and Professional Charges and Reimbursement Patterns in Pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

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Research: Hospital and Professional Charges and Reimbursement Patterns in Pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

Am Surg

. 2022 May 15;31348221091968. doi: 10.1177/00031348221091968. Online ahead of print https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35574635/

Hospital and Professional Charges and Reimbursement Patterns in Pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

Alejandra M Casar Berazaluce 1 2Jason S Frischer 1Affiliations expand

Abstract

Background: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is an expensive therapeutic modality. We sought to identify the main charge contributors to patient bills and analyze their patterns of reimbursement. We additionally sought to evaluate the impact of 2015 Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code changes in professional billing for pediatric surgeons.

Methods: A retrospective review of ECMO cases at a standalone quaternary children’s hospital between 2008-2017 was performed. Itemized hospital and professional bills were analyzed.

Results: Top charges included room rates, nitric oxide, medications, invasive support and monitoring, and laboratory testing. Average reimbursement was ∼60% for hospital and ∼36% for professional bills. CPT code changes in 2015 represented a 65% reduction in RVUs and 46% reduction in professional charges. Medicaid reimbursement for professional billing remained stable at 9%, and commercial reimbursement fell from 70% to 59% during the study period.

Conclusions: The main drivers of ECMO charges are unrelated to ECMO supplies or surgery. Evidence-based guidelines for ECMO management could make a difference in healthcare expenditure. Modern CPT codes depreciate RVUs and professional charges, compromising revenue. As the infrastructure required to provide this service is costly, diminishing returns may limit access to this therapy.

Keywords: congenital diaphragmatic hernia; critical care; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; pediatric surgery; respiratory failure.

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