STS and ACC Support National Coverage Analysis for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

PRESS RELEASE - Feb. 3, 2012 - Cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiologists jointly support the coverage of this new heart therapy for U.S. patients - Today, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC), released a joint statement in support of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s (CMS) release of a proposed National Coverage Determination (NCD) for transcatheter aortic valve replacement therapy (TAVR). A 30-day public comment period is now open and a final NCD for TAVR is expected to be released later this year. 

“The Society of Thoracic Surgeons is pleased CMS has released a comprehensive approach to TAVR coverage. As surgeons, we support coverage efforts that seek to optimize patient safety and value physician collaboration. This coverage analysis achieves these goals through the use of specialized centers with multidisciplinary heart teams and registry enrollment,” commented STS President Jeffrey B. Rich, MD.

Released by CMS, the proposed NCD states that coverage for TAVR be approved under Coverage with Evidence Development and that TAVR should only be covered for the treatment of severe symptomatic aortic stenosis when all six of the following conditions are met:

  1. TAVR should be performed for an FDA approved indication, with a complete valve and implantation system that has received FDA premarket approval for this indication;
  2. Two cardiac surgeons have evaluated the patient’s suitability for open valve replacement surgery;
  3. TAVR should only be done by a Heart Team that includes joint pre-op decision making and intra-op co-management of the technical aspects of the TAVR procedure;
  4. TAVR is performed in a facility that meets surgical or interventional program volume requirements and is committed to the Heart Team concept;
  5. TAVR should be performed by physicians who meet strict surgeon or interventionalist requirements, including board certification/eligibility; and 
  6. The TAVR patient and the treating physician team are enrolled in a prospective national registry to track outcomes.

“This is tremendous news for Medicare beneficiaries. ACC is pleased that CMS is proposing a national coverage policy that balances the critical need to provide access to this important, innovative service with the need to ensure that care is provided in qualified facilities by highly skilled heart care teams and the need to collect data on experience with the device and procedure in the real world. We are especially pleased that CMS has proposed to provide a smooth path to Medicare coverage as the technology continues to evolve and improve,” said ACC President David R. Holmes, Jr., MD, FACC.”

In December 2011, STS and ACC launched the STS/ACC TVT Registry, the first-of-its-kind benchmarking tool to track outcomes of TAVR. Built to deliver insight into clinical practice patterns, the STS/ACC TVT Registry provides a data repository that captures and reports patient demographics, procedure details, and facility and physician information.

Backed by the registry expertise of the STS National Database and the ACC’s National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR), the TVT Registry serves as the main repository for all clinical data related to TAVR and is positioned to incorporate additional catheter-based procedures that have yet to come to market in the United States.

The proposed NCD also included conditions for the national non-coverage of TAVR. Specific non-coverage events are: mixed aortic valve disease; isolated aortic regurgitation; untreated clinically significant coronary artery disease requiring revascularization; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with or without obstruction; echocardiographic evidence of intracardiac mass, thrombus or vegetation; significant aortic disease; and iliofemoral vessel characteristics that would preclude safe placement of an introducer sheath. Please see the proposed National Coverage Determination for additional details on non-coverage of TAVR.

NCDs are policies issued by CMS under Section 1869(f) of the Social Security Act to determine whether or not a particular item or service should be covered nationally by Medicare. The NCD grants, limits, or excludes Medicare coverage. NCDs are binding on all Medicare carriers, fiscal intermediaries, quality improvement organizations, health maintenance organizations, competitive medical plans, and health care prepayment plans.

Note to Editors: For more information about TAVR or to arrange for an interview with Dr. Rich, contact Rachel Estrada (STS) at restrada [at] sts [dot] org or (312) 202-5865. To arrange for an interview with Dr. Holmes, contact Stephanie Abraham (ACC) at sabraham [at] acc [dot] org or (202)375-6296.

Founded in 1964, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons is a not-for-profit organization representing more than 6,300 surgeons, researchers, and allied health care professionals worldwide who are dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for surgeries of the heart, lung, and esophagus, as well as other surgical procedures within the chest. The mission of the Society is to enhance the ability of cardiothoracic surgeons to provide the highest quality patient care through education, research, and advocacy. Learn more at

The American College of Cardiology is transforming cardiovascular care and improving heart health through continuous quality improvement, patient-centered care, payment innovation and professionalism. The College is a 39,000-member nonprofit medical society comprised of physicians, surgeons, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists and practice managers, and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet its stringent qualifications. The College is a leader in the formulation of health policy, standards and guidelines, and is a staunch supporter of cardiovascular research. The ACC provides professional education and operates national registries for the measurement and improvement of quality care. More information about the association is available online at