One possible approach to containing Medicare costs involves explicit changes in Medicare's coverage policy with respect to medical technology. This paper first describes the development and diffusion of medical technology in general and then describes how technologies are identified, assessed, and approved for payment by Medicare. Currently, cost is neither a criterion nor an explicit issue in coverage decisions, although coverage policy is an integral part of payment policy. A combination of policies to reduce the rates of adoption and use of certain technologies is needed–including cost considerations in technology assessments for coverage decisions, limiting diffusion of technology to certain providers and sites, limiting utilization to certain indications, and tightening administrative processes. Finally, the interaction between coverage policy and DRG payment needs to be explored more thoroughly.

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