Industry execs visit White House

September 17, 2007

Executives from GE Healthcare, Siemens Medical Solutions, and other imaging equipment vendors visited the White House last week to meet with presidential advisors about the effect of declining Medicare payments on the medical imaging industry.

Executives from GE Healthcare, Siemens Medical Solutions, and other imaging equipment vendors visited the White House last week to meet with presidential advisors about the effect of declining Medicare payments on the medical imaging industry.

At the top of the agenda were concerns about past Medicare cuts, particularly ones coming from the Deficit Reduction Act, which took effect this year. Also of high priority on the discussion list were the proposed cuts associated with legislation passed Aug. 1 by the House of Representatives as part of the Children's Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act of 2007 (DI SCANSept. 7, Lobbyists take aim at proposed reimbursement cuts ).

CHAMP would reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) but, in the process, would impose further reimbursement cuts on medical imaging. The Senate version of the bill, approved Aug. 2, would not restrict imaging payments. Differences between the House and Senate bills must be worked out in conference this month.

"There are some rumors in the SCHIP bill about future imaging cuts, and we wanted to talk about how that would negatively affect healthcare in the U.S.," said Joe Hogan, president and CEO of GE Healthcare.

Hogan was among imaging industry execs who expressed concern to Julie Goon, special assistant to the president for economic policy, over what the DRA cuts have already done to the diagnostic imaging market in the U.S. He spoke specifically about the down market that all vendors of big ticket devices are currently experiencing.

Hogan described the White House response to industry pleas as pragmatic.

"They understand the concern about imaging cuts," Hogan said. "They don't like the Congressional bill, because it means an overall expansion of government-sponsored healthcare. We think we have a good audience with the administration."

The executives spoke as part of a coordinated effort by two industry lobbying groups, Access to Medical Imaging Coalition and AdvaMed. AMIC members represent primarily the imaging community. AdvaMed members represent a broader swath of medical device, diagnostics, and health IT companies.

Hogan was encouraged by the White House meeting, which underscored the need for the imaging industry to maintain a united front in the fight against undue reimbursement cuts.

"From an imaging standpoint, we have to work together to make sure all of us have the right presence in Washington, DC, and that we have the right constituencies behind us, like the American College of Cardiology and American College of Radiology, to present our case properly," he said. "We have to stay focused on Washington, DC, right now to defend our position and to point out how important imaging is to healthcare in the U.S."

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