MedCAC panel gives VC mediocre marks

A U.S. government panel charged with providing guidance on whether virtual colonoscopy should receive Medicare reimbursement gave VC less-than-enthusiastic scores following a meeting last week.

The Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee (MedCAC) met in Baltimore on November 19 to discuss whether the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should pay for virtual colonoscopy (also know as CT colonography). The panelists discussed the merits and drawbacks of VC relative to optical colonoscopy, and each panelist provided a numerical score that rated their opinion of VC's value in a variety of categories.

For the most part, the MedCAC panelists did not appear impressed with virtual colonoscopy. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most positive rating, VC got its best marks in response to a question regarding whether there is enough evidence to determine the technology's sensitivity and specificity for average-risk individuals compared to optical colonoscopy for polyps equal to and greater than 10 mm (overall average score of 4.77).

But when asked whether the use of VC would increase colorectal screening rates in the Medicare population, MedCAC panel members gave the question a score of 2.0. And for the question of whether VC has a similar ratio of cost per life-year saved as optical colonoscopy, the MedCAC panelists offered an overall average score of 1.62.

After the November 19 meeting, a panel member told that widely divergent responses to some questions were reflective of the affiliation of MedCAC panel members.

The scores are documented in a PDF file, part of a CMS Web page that includes links to the meeting agenda and participant list, as well as a recent technology assessment report presented at the meeting.

Related Reading

MedCAC panel members question VC's effectiveness, November 25, 2008

Gastroenterologists embrace VC screening, with caveats, October 28, 2008

CMS announces VC evidence meeting, September 26, 2008

ACR, others exhort CMS to cover virtual colonoscopy, June 19, 2008

American Cancer Society recognizes virtual colonoscopy screening benefit, March 5, 2008

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