'Persistent decline' in spine surgery reimbursements remain, analysis finds


As spine procedure volumes grew in the last 20 years, reimbursements have dipped, researchers found in an analysis.

Researchers from the University of Texas McGovern Medical School in Houston used the CMS physician fee schedule look-up tool to pull reimbursements for the five most common spinal procedures, including spinal fusion, disc surgery and anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. 

After adjusting for inflation, analysts found reimbursement fees decreased across all evaluated CPT codes, including surgical instrumentation. Inflation-adjusted fees fell 11.05 percent for ACDF; cervical spinal fusion fees fell 38.72 percent, and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion saw a fee decrease of 7.85 percent.

The study found a "persistent decline in reimbursement rates of the most common spine procedures and instrumentation since the year 2000." Researchers added, "If unaddressed, this trend can serve as a substantial disincentive for physicians to perform these procedures and can significantly limit access to spinal care at the population level."

The findings were published in the Global Spine Journal May 24, 2022.

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