Medicare would save more than $1 billion a year if certain surgical procedures were performed in the nation's ambulatory surgery centers rather than hospital outpatient departments, according to a study just issued by The Moran Company (Arlington, Virginia).

The study, performed for the Federated Ambulatory Surgery Association, analyzed 2003 Medicare claims that included at least one surgical procedure payable by Medicare in both ambulatory and outpatient settings. The study re-priced the hospital outpatient department (HOPD) claims to 2005 Medicare rules and rates for ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and HOPDs and found:

On average, claims cost $320 less in an ASC than an HOPD.

Procedures performed in an ASC in 2005 will cost the Medicare program $1.1 billion less than if the same procedures were performed in an HOPD.

If procedures performed in an HOPD – that Medicare also reimburses ASC for providing – were instead performed in an ASC, Medicare would save nearly $1.6 billion more in 2005.

The Moran Company analyzed about 5 million HOPD claims as those Medicare would reimburse if performed in an ASC. It found that in 2005, claims in an outpatient hospital setting would cost Medicare about $4.4 billion in reimbursements. Claims for the same procedures done in ASCs would total about $2.8 billion, about $1.6 billion less than the cost to Medicare for the same procedures done at HOPDs. Claims averaged $891 in the HOPD, but only $571 in an ASC, a savings of $320 per claim for ASC procedures, according to the study.

Blood bank standards revised

AABB (Bethesda, Maryland) – accrediting and setting standards for facilities involved in the cord blood collection, processing and distribution of blood and blood components for more than 50 years – has revised its standards for AABB-accredited cord blood banks.

The new requirements were published in late 2004 in the AABB Standards for Cellular Therapy Product Services, 1st edition, and are scheduled to become effective on May 1. These standards serve as the foundation for accreditation by AABB, formerly the American Association of Blood Banks.