Current Issue - November/December 2017 - Vol 20 Issue 7


  1. 2017;20;551-567Reversal of Growth of Utilization of Interventional Techniques in Managing Chronic Pain in Medicare Population Post Affordable Care Act
    Health Policy Review
    Laxmaiah Manchikanti, MD, Amol Soin, MD, Dharam P Mann, MD, Sanjay Bakshi, MD, Vidyasagar Pampati, MSc, and Joshua A. Hirsch, MD.

BACKGROUND: Over the past 2 decades, the increase in the utilization of interventional techniques has been a cause for concern. Despite multiple regulations to reduce utilization of interventional techniques, growth patterns continued through 2009.

A declining trend was observed in a previous evaluation; however, a comparative analysis of utilization patterns of interventional techniques has not been performed showing utilization before and after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

OBJECTIVES: Our aim is to assess patterns of utilization and variables of interventional techniques in chronic pain management in the fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare population, with a comparative analysis of pre- and post-ACA.

STUDY DESIGN: Utilization patterns and variables of interventional techniques were assessed from 2000 to 2009 and from 2009 to 2016 in the FFS Medicare population of the United States in managing chronic pain.

METHODS: The master data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) physician/supplier procedure summary from 2000 to 2016 was utilized to assess overall utilization and comparative utilization at various time periods.

RESULTS: The analysis of Medicare data from 2000 to 2016 showed an overall decrease in utilization of interventional techniques 0.6% per year from 2009 to 2016, whereas from 2000 to 2009, there was an increase of 11.8% per year per 100,000 individuals of the Medicare population. In addition, the United States experienced an increase of 0.7% per year of population growth, 3.2% of those 65 years or older and a 3% annual increase in Medicare participation from 2009 to 2016. Further analysis also showed a 1.7% annual decrease in the rate of utilization of epidural and adhesiolysis procedures per 100,000 individuals of the Medicare population, with a 2.2% decrease for disc procedures and other types of nerve blocks, whereas there was an increase of 0.8% annually for facet joint interventions and sacroiliac joint blocks from 2009 to 2016. Epidural and adhesiolysis procedures showed an 8.9% annual increase, facet joint interventions and sacroiliac joint blocks showed a 17.6% increase, and disc procedures and other types of nerve blocks showed a 7.2% increase annually per 100,000 individuals of the Medicare population from 2000 to 2009.

LIMITATIONS: The limitations of this assessment include lack of analysis of individual procedures. Additional limitations include lack of inclusion of patients from Medicare Advantage plans and lack of complete and accurate data for statewide utilization.

CONCLUSION: From 2009 to 2016, interventional techniques decreased at an annual rate of 0.6% with an overall decrease of 3.9%, compared to an overall increase of 173.6% from 2000 to 2009 with an annual increase of 11.8%. An additional analysis of data with individual procedures is essential to gain further insights into utilization patterns.

KEY WORDS: Interventional pain management, chronic spinal pain, interventional techniques, epidural injections, adhesiolysis, facet joint interventions, sacroiliac joint injections, disc procedures, other types of nerve blocks