Federal decision may impact RS Medical

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A decision by a federal health-care management agency is likely to restrict Medicare coverage for one of Vancouver-based RS Medical's products used to treat chronic low-back pain.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, last week issued a statement that might lead to restrictions this year on Medicare coverage for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy.

RS Medical, which manufactures a device used in TENS therapy, said the device will be available through physicians or directly through the company even if the government eliminates low-back pain treatment reimbursement. It also said Medicare will continue to cover TENS therapy for patients who suffer from painful conditions other than chronic low-back pain.

David Rardin, RS' director of marketing communications, said he does not know if the reimbursement change would impact the company's local workforce. It had about 200 local employees in March but has shifted some work overseas. About 65 workers laid off as long ago as Feb. 27, 2011, are eligible for retraining and jobless benefits under a program triggered when layoffs are tied to foreign competition.