Novitas LCD Guidance: UPDATED

UPDATE:
The AVLS is currently working on an advocacy effort to oppose the propsed LCD by Novitas regarding treatment of varicose veins. The AVLS is dealing with the issue from several angles, including: a coalition with other societies and industry, public comment, letters to members of Congress, and community/patient engagement. Below, you will find links to resources, sample letters and background for members in the affected area, who wish to participate.

  1. Submit public comment to Novitas before the deadline of March 9, 2017. Information regarding the policy and ways to submit comments can be found HERE.
  1. Directly contact members of Congress in the affected region. A sample letter template and contact information for key House members can be found HERE.
  1. Get your patients involved in the discussion. Discussion board conversations can do [something] and a list of credible discussion boards for your patients to post to can be found HERE.

 

Background & Public Comment

Novitas, Inc., a Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC), recently proposed a draft Local Coverage Determination (LCD) regarding Treatment of Varicose Veins of the Lower Extremities (DL34924). This LCD would affect the twelve states within Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) jurisdiction J-H, which includes: Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The AVLS is taking an active role in formally objecting to the proposed policy to ensure that the changes do not limit patients’ access to care. To that end, the AVLS provided expert testimony at the January 26, 2017 Novitas open public meeting, and we are currently participating with a coalition of several societies and organizations opposed to the draft policy. In addition to the official efforts undertaken by the AVLS, we are asking our members in the impacted jurisdictions to submit their own written comments directly to Novitas. The public comment period ends on March 9, 2017, so time is of the essence.

Links to the full text of the draft policy, supplementary reading materials, options to submit comments, and recommended references can be found at the end of this email. In order to maintain a consistent message and cover all of our concerns, the AVLS has put together a list of specific objections that can be included in your comments. Novitas will reject public comments that look like a form letter, so please draft your comments into your own voice as much as possible.

  • Paragraph 1 indicates that only patients with advanced post inflammatory skin injury (C4b) or active ulcer (C6) will be eligible for coverage for ablation of the saphenous vein (if present), eliminating patients with symptomatic C2 (varicose veins), C3 (venous edema), C4a (pigmentation and active venous eczema) and C5 (healed venous leg ulcer) patients.
  • Paragraph 1 suggests that the minimum acceptable GSV diameter to qualify for coverage of GSV ablation is 9.6mm; no medical literature exists to support this diameter and seems arbitrary.
  • A statement, “(CVD) are very common and do not cause symptoms or medical problems in most people”, which is inaccurate.
  • Paragraph 2 lists “impaired mobility” as a criterion for treatment. Impaired mobility is not a commonly used phrase to describe functional impairments in patients with CVD and therefore its definition as used in the proposed policy for coverage is vague.
  • We are also concerned about a restriction to allow coverage for saphenous ablation in patients with GSV and SSV reflux in patients with open venous leg ulcers (C6 disease) only after a several week trial of elastic compression stocking use.
  • Mechanicochemical Ablation is listed as an investigational therapy. There is significant clinical data to demonstrate that this procedure is safe and as effective in relieving clinical symptoms as thermal ablation, with durability demonstrated to at least two years. This procedure has good evidence of short and mid-term efficacy, should be considered a viable care option and should be covered.
  • The limits of 6 sessions of thermal saphenous ablation per lifetime of the patient and 3 sessions of sclerotherapy per leg per year are scientifically arbitrary.

It is important that coverage policies are made based on clinical evidence and established science, not claims data. If you live in the Novitas jurisdiction, please make your voice heard. If adopted, policies such as this will have far-reaching consequences for patient care, not just in the states specified, but for the whole country.

Below are links to the full text of the draft policy and the link to submit comments. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at [email protected] .

To access the full proposed/draft LCD, CLICK HERE.

For additional information regarding draft policy status and history, CLICK HERE.

Comments can be submitted via one of the four (4) methods listed below (all methods are given equal consideration). If you are referencing literature for the Novitas Contractor Medical Directors to consider with your comments, the full text article(s) (PDF) must be submitted via the postal service or e-mail.

Electronically at: SUBMIT COMMENTS ONLINE

Email: [email protected]

US Mail addressed to:

Novitas Solutions
Medical Policy Department
Union Trust Building
Suite 600
501 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Fax: (717) 728-8767

Recommended References for Citation in Public Comments:

 

Contact Congress

The letter below is a sample letter physicians in the affected jurisdiction can send to their member of Congress. The letter is a suggestion and can be changed to reflect the voice of the sender. In addition, the chart below provides contact information for those members of Congress who represent the impacted areas.

DOWNLOAD SAMPLE LETTER

 

STATE CONGRESS MEMBER WEBSITE DC OFFICE
TX Pete Sessions https://sessions.house.gov/contact 202.225.2231
Marchant Kenny https://marchant.house.gov/ 202.225.6605
Joe Barton http://joebarton.house.gov/ (202) 225.2002
Dr. Michael Burgess https://burgess.house.gov/ (202) 225.7772
MS Greg Harper http://harper.house.gov/contact-gregg (202) 225.5031
CO Diana DeGette https://degette.house.gov/contact (202) 225.4431
MD John Sarbanes https://sarbanes.house.gov/ (202) 225.4016

 

Patient Engagement

The AVLS is also urging clinicians to get their patients involved in the process. This can be a powerful way for the patient’s voice to be heard. Below are links to credible message boards where those conversations are taking place. Please encourage your patients to post to these with their success stories.

http://community.babycenter.com/post/a65812927/large-vein-on-my-calf-muscle-throbbing

http://www.healthboards.com/boards/showthread.php?t=1031450

http://messageboards.webmd.com/living-healthy/f/womens-health/4762/anyone-have-vein-surgery

http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Varicose-Veins/Has-anyone-had-vein-treatment-and-noticed-that-their-legs-feel-better-afterwards-/show/2963312#post_14136076

https://messageboards.webmd.com/living-healthy/f/womens-health/4791/did-anyone-hear-that-vein-treatment-might-not-be-covered-anymore-by-medicare

http://www.healthboards.com/boards/showthread.php?p=5451228#post5451228