Imaging community maintains pressure to stave off payment cuts

December 6, 2006

Lame duck lawmakers, as well those staying on for the 110th Congress, are feeling the heat from the imaging community to delay the implementation of draconian reimbursement cuts slated to take effect in less than a month.

Lame duck lawmakers, as well those staying on for the 110th Congress, are feeling the heat from the imaging community to delay the implementation of draconian reimbursement cuts slated to take effect in less than a month.

The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition has sent letters to outgoing House Speaker Dennis Hastert and retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist reiterating its concern regarding the large cuts in imaging services included in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.

The cuts, which are slated to go into effect Jan. 1, 2007, will affect high-end diagnostic imaging modalities such as MRI, CT, PET, and nuclear studies, as well as dual x-ray absorptiometry bone-density scans and ultrasound.

The AMIC is composed of more than 30 organizations, including the American College of Radiology and the American College of Cardiology. It asked each leader to support bipartisan bills that call for a two-year moratorium on the payment reductions while the Government Accountability Office conducts a study on the likely impact of the cuts on patient access.

"We are committed to working to delay the imaging cuts and put a better policy in place to deal with concerns of increased utilization by looking at different models for accreditation and/or implementation of clinical protocols at the point of service," Tim Trysla, AMIC's executive director, told Diagnostic Imaging.

AMIC also has placed advertisements in two primary publications that serve lawmakers on Capitol Hill: Roll Call and the National Journal's Congress Daily. The ads count down the days until January 1 in an effort to reinforce the urgency of action on the DRA cuts in the lame duck session.

House members could adjourn this week, while senators will remain in Washington an extra week to deal with the confirmation of Robert Gates as the new secretary of defense.

For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

Medicare rule comments reveal fears, fixes of radiologists

Reimbursement cuts could make exams money losers

Imaging's reimbursement bubble bursts

Fall means open season on imaging payments