Headline misstates source of economic woes in imaging

October 1, 2006
Andrew Whitman
Andrew Whitman

Your otherwise balanced article on the impact of the Deficit Reduction Act on medical imaging payments was marred by an unfortunate headline ("Trouble by the numbers: Imaging's reimbursement bubble bursts," August 2006, page 22). In fact, the imaging reimbursement environment bears no relationship to economic bubbles or the wasteful excesses that define them.

Medicare data show that many imaging procedures are paid below the true costs of providing the services, even now, before the DRA reductions are slated to be implemented. When the DRA cuts are factored in, reimbursement for some 80% of the affected imaging procedures will fall below the real-world costs that physicians face in providing the service, according to a recent preliminary analysis.

More broadly, medical imaging provides clear value to patients and to the healthcare system, whether that is measured in longer lives, improved efficiencies, shorter length-of-stay, earlier detection, or less invasive care. That is a sound, and welcome, economic reality.

-Andrew Whitman
National Electrical Manufacturers Association