The Washington State Health Technology Assessment Program (HTA) voted on October 17, 2008 to provide coverage, with conditions, for lumbar and cervical artificial discs after reviewing evidence and hearing public testimony from six collaborating spine societies and patients who received discs.
According to a October 20th e-mail sent to stakeholders by the HTA, "The Health Technology Clinical Committee (HTCC) determined that sufficient evidence exists to conclude that using artificial discs in back and neck surgery is equivalent, and in some cases slightly better than fusion surgery. And even though no reliable cost data is yet available, it should be covered when used according to FDA indications.
The HTCC, made up of independent health professionals, review evidence regarding safety, efficacy, and cost effectiveness of various medical procedures and equipment. Based on a scientific report, the HTCC determines if the state will pay for those procedures in a variety of state-sponsored health care programs administered by the Health Care Authority, Labor and Industries, and the Department of Social and Health Services."
Six societies with an interest in spine teamed up over many months to provide the state Clinical Committee with additional evidence and provide public testimony in order to preserve patient access to this treatment.
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Cervical Spine Research Society
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
North American Spine Society
Scoliosis Research Society
Spine Arthroplasty Society
Key questions, the evidence report and public comments and responses can be found at http://www.hta.hca.wa.gov/art_discs.html. It is anticipated that this decision will be finalized in November 2008.