Medicare pulls Botox coverage at pain clinics
Patients must now pay hundreds for therapeutic treatment, says director
The director of the pain clinic at the Dr.-Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital says he's upset he'll no longer be able to offer therapeutic botox treatment to his patients without charging them.
Medicare is limiting the use of Botox to certain specialties and will no longer pay for patients at pain clinics.
Dr. Richard Dumais has been using therapeutic Botox on his patients for 15 years.
Dumais uses ultrasound to inject it precisely and says it's been useful in treating several conditions.
"For pain syndromes that vary from ... painful muscle spasms, low back to headaches through neck pain, various painful conditions," he said.
Dumais said he was surprised to receive a letter from medicare telling him his patients will no longer be covered for the treatment.
Patients have had to wait up to three years just to get into the pain clinic and Dumais said he worries what will happen now that the treatment won't be available without cost.
If patients want to continue with the procedure at his pain clinic, they will have to pay up to $150 for his services and $300 to $400 for each vial of Botox.
"So not only now will they have to pay for the Botox, for the molecule itself which runs between $300 to $800 per treatment, but now they're going to have to pay the physician to administer it, if the physician is not one of the specialists that is approved to administer it," he said.
The Department of Health said medicare is looking into the situation.
Dumais said the drug has helped many of his patients.
"It's allowed them to ... return to productive life. It's allowed them to decrease the medication they've been taking, so it's a treatment that significantly helps them," he said.