Key findings:

  • Washington state is saving more than $40 million each year by scaling back state funding of 21 medical procedures and devices — experts say Medicare could save billions by doing the same.
  • The Evergreen State's crackdown includes procedures that are popular, but expensive: arthroscopic knee surgery, back pain injections, CT heart scans and lumbar fusion.
  • By law, Medicare is required to cover any procedure deemed "reasonable and necessary," and this language has effectively removed cost-effectiveness from the coverage discussion.
  • The Affordable Care Act actually includes a provision that ensures cost of a treatment won't determine coverage or reimbursement.