Medicare to cover liver transplants at Johns Hopkins Two-year survival rate said to exceed 80 percent

February 25, 1992

More than 80 percent of all people undergoing liver transplants at Johns Hopkins Hospital are surviving for two years after surgery -- a record that enables Medicare to cover the once-experimental operations, hospital officials said.

Hopkins is the 13th hospital nationwide to earn Medicare coverage for liver transplants since April. That was when the government added liver transplants for disabled and elderly people to the list of "reasonable and necessary" surgeries eligible for payments.

Medicare covers the surgeries for seven conditions, includin chronic active hepatitis, alcoholic cirrhosis, biliary cirrhosis and Wilson's disease. The coverage is retroactive to March 1990.

Until now, the University of Pittsburgh was the nearest center doing liver transplants covered by Medicare.

To qualify, hospitals must show a one-year survival rate above 77 percent, and a two-year survival rate of at least 60 percent for all liver transplant surgery. Hopkins' record shows an 81 percent survival rate for both one and two years after surgery, spokeswoman Michele Fizzano said.

Hospital officials said the Hopkins Liver Transplant Program, begun in 1986, has performed more than 160 operations.

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