Medicare Establishes Payment Level for Treatment of Tremor

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has set the institutional payment for focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor at approximately $10,000. After two years CMS will reevaluate the payment level based on the actual costs of treatments performed during that interval.


CMS logoFocused ultrasound has the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for many patients suffering with essential tremor. For this potential to be realized, focused ultrasound must be widely adopted as a standard of care, which requires evidence of safety and efficacy and sufficient reimbursement to allow healthcare institutions to acquire the equipment and train physicians to use it. 

Robust evidence of safety and efficacy of focused ultrasound to treat certain patients with essential tremor has been achieved through a clinical trial, the results of which served as the basis for the July 2016 FDA approval for this indication. The study’s final data were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August 2016.

While the level of reimbursement currently approved by CMS is less than desired by the neurosurgical community, it is hopefully sufficient to allow adequate numbers of patients to be treated during the next two years to generate the cost data that will allow CMS to adjust the level of payment.

Focused ultrasound to treat essential tremor is the first brain disorder to be approved by the FDA and the first to be reimbursed by Medicare. These approvals serve as the predicate to treat other brain indications including tumors, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, and reversibly opening the blood brain barrier to enable delivery of a range of cutting-edge therapies for a variety of other neurological disorders that are in earlier stages of research and development.

We anticipate Medicare reimbursement for patient treatments will be available after the first of the year. 

Comments   
0 #23 FUS Foundation 2017-11-07 16:44
Hello Lizzie,

To our knowledge, there are no sites in Australia offering focused ultrasound treatment for tremors. In the US, focused ultrasound is not approved specifically for head tremors, but rather for those diagnosed with essential tremor. Those patients would need to be assessed on a case by case basis to determine if focused ultrasound is a good option for treatment. If you are interested in being treated outside of Australia, you can use our "Find a treatment site" database: https://www.fusfoundation.org/for-patients/treatment-sites
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0 #22 Lizzie 2017-11-07 14:43
People are beyond desperate for more action and affordable options for this treatment. I am 27, i live with my mother(who is unemployed), I'm currently unemployed(not by choice) It would mean the world to me/other ET sufferers if it was backed by Medicare. Hospitals and whomever can understand the urgency it requires. God bless. Please help fight for the people.
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0 #21 Lizzie 2017-11-07 14:34
Hi I'm living in Adelaide, Australia. I'm desperate for this non invasive treatment for my head tremor. Is it available here and covered by Medicare. The price is very costly as I don't work due to the severity of my tremor. Please let me know details. Thank-you.
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0 #20 FUS Foundation 2017-10-26 11:20
Hello Lynn and Rebekah,

Thank you for reaching out. Medicare approval is a two-step process. The first step is for Medicare to establishe a payment level for a specific treatment, and that has happened for focused ultrasound to treat essential tremor in the US. The second step requires the regional Medicare affiliates to approve this treatment in your area. That has not yet happened in any region of the US. As we await their decisions, patients have two options. The first is to be evaluated by a treatment site and, if it you are suitable for focused ultrasound treatment, you can be added to a waiting list. Secondly, you can opt to pay out-of-
pocket for the treatment at sites around the country.

We encourage you to contact our Chief Medical Officer at if you have any additional questions.
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0 #19 FUS Foundation 2017-10-26 08:42
Hello Mary,

There are two sites in the New York and Ohio area: Weill Cornell Medical Center and Ohio State University. You can use our directory to find contact information for both sites. https://www.fusfoundation.org/for-patients/treatment-sites
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+1 #18 Lynn Bailey 2017-10-23 18:57
My husband has ET and desperately needs this non-invasive procedure.
We have been waiting for Medicare approval
Now that it has been approved by Medicare, we
would like to proceed.
Where is this procedure done?
What is the cost?
Will BCBS cover part of it as a supplemental insurance?
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0 #17 Rebekah Fontenot 2017-10-23 14:15
Has Medicare approved payment for this treatment, for individuals that live in Iowa, with an ET diagnosis that is not responding to medication?

Thank you in advance for any information that can be provided.
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0 #16 Mary Benson 2017-10-20 00:11
I live in the farthest southwest corner of New York State. Is there any research being done in my part of the country? Any work being done in Buffalo NY or Cleveland OH?
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0 #15 FUS Foundation 2017-10-13 10:35
Hello Cara,

Unfortunately, we are not aware of any specific assistance with the cost of the treatment in the UK. We would suggest contacting the treatment center nearest you, as they would be aware of any options available to you.

You can locate a treatment center using our database: https://www.fusfoundation.org/for-patients/treatment-sites
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0 #14 FUS Foundation 2017-10-13 10:22
Hello Linda,

While this ruling is the first step to Medicare reimbursement, there are a number of hurdles left. You can learn more in our recent focus feature on essential tremor: https://www.fusfoundation.org/the-foundation/news-media/1971-focus-feature-focused-ultrasound-for-essential-tremor
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