Make Pain a Thing of the Past – Medicare – Physician Partners of America

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Bill Has Rare Bipartisan Support –

Update: President Trump signed the bill into law Oct. 24.

A proposed federal opioid law addressing the opioid crisis would increase access to treatment for addiction, open the door for non-opioid therapy, and limit over prescription of narcotic painkillers.

On October 3, in a rare show of bipartisanship, Congress passed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. The bill was approved by a vote of 98 to 1 in the Senate and 393 to 8 in the House of Representatives. The opioid legislation is expected to be signed into law by President Donald Trump and take effect Jan. 1.

With an opioid-related death toll at 700,000 and rising since the 1990s, Physician Partners of America (PPOA) applauds the proposed federal opioid law.

“Pain management specialists are at the forefront of combating this national problem,” said Abraham Rivera, M.D., chief medical officer of Physician Partners of America. “We embrace the actions of congress and will incorporate the resources the law provide for the welfare of our patients.”

The company stresses its interventional pain management approach, which treats the root of  pain problems, over masking symptoms with opioid medication.

The far-reaching legislation package is aimed at changing the way the United States approaches the addiction issue. Provisions include:

  • Creating a grant program for opioid recovery centers to address treatment and recovery
  • Allowing more health care practitioners to prescribe opioid addiction medications
  • Expanding the availability of naloxone, a medication that reverses overdoses, to first responders
  • Allowing government agencies to pursue addition and pain research projects
  • Educating a wider group of health care providers about best practices in pain management

The new federal opioid law aims to limit overprescription of opioid painkillers to Medicare and Medicaid recipients, and expands access to addiction treatment within those programs

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ reimbursement for common pain management procedures are also going up because of this,” said Luis Nieves, M.D. PPOA’s Hurst, Texas pain management specialist.  “Hopefully private insurance will follow and improve access for all patients.”


Does Medicare Cover Laser Back Surgery?

Good news for seniors who have put off treating neck or back pain because of cost: Physician Partners of America is one of the few healthcare providers that accepts Medicare for minimally invasive laser spine procedures.

These procedures typically cost patients thousands of dollars without Medicare or insurance coverage.

With most laser spine surgeries, the surgeon and the surgical facility are billed separately. Physician Partners of America accepts traditional Medicare for both the physician and the facility, allowing the procedure to be become more affordable for Medicare patients.

“No one should be forced to live with excruciating pain because they can’t afford surgical intervention,” said James St. Louis, D.O., MS, director of PPOA’s Minimally Invasive Laser Spine Group. “We are pleased to be able to make this life-changing option to our patients very affordable.”

Laser spine surgery performed by experts

Dr. St. Louis, the surgical founder of Laser Spine Institute in Tampa, Fla., joined PPOA in January. Phillip Kravetz, M.D., another pioneer in the field, will perform these procedures in Texas.

Minimally invasive laser spine procedures are fast becoming the gold standard for addressing severe spine-related pain. Minimally invasive refers to the small incision (less than one inch) and tiny instruments used to perform a procedure. Narrow dilation tubes are fed through the incision to spread the muscles surrounding the back. In contrast, traditional open back surgery uses a five- to six-inch incision. Through this a surgeon must cut and tear muscles to reach the spine.

The laser is mainly used for ablations and disc work.

Laser spine surgery isn’t the only way PPOA ensures a good patient outcome. Its surgeons also use intraoperative neuromonitoring to further ensure safety of the patient’s neural system during the operation. IONM can “see” what neither the doctor nor the fluoroscopy (live x-ray) machine can, and it helps avoid accidental injury.

The methods used in PPOA’s minimally invasive laser spine surgery allow for a totally outpatient procedure. Most patients are able to walk out of the surgery center the same day, and resume activities in days or weeks, as opposed to months with traditional surgery.

Life changing procedures

Patients who have had this procedure at Physician Partners of America call it nothing short of a miracle.

“I couldn’t walk. I could hardly leave my couch, couldn’t bend over to pick anything up without pain, said Medicare patient Laura Wall, 63, of Sun City Center, Fla. Since she’s had laser spine surgery by Dr. St. Louis, “I can swim and walk and do everything I want. Looking forward to working out. It’s the best move I’ve ever made. I’m very satisfied. More than satisfied.”

Patients can make an appointment with Dr. Kravetz at 817-576-0885, or reach Dr. St. Louis by calling 855-25-LASER.


Laser Spine Surgery "Quick Answers"

A: Laser Spine Surgery is covered by Medicare if the surgeon and the facility where the surgery is performed are both in network with Medicare.

A: Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery is covered by Medicare if the surgeon and the facility where the surgery is performed are both in network with Medicare. You can expect to contribute to part of the costs as you would with most surgical procedures covered by Medicare.