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White House Budget May Reduce Patient Access to Medical Imaging


Radiology groups concerned the Fiscal Year 2015 budget recommending prior authorization of advanced medical imaging will limit patients’ access to tests.

The new White House budget may adversely affect patient access to advanced medical imaging technologies, according to a release issued by the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC).

President Obama’s 2015 budget not only tries to close a loophole in the anti-self-referral law by eliminating the In-Office Ancillary Services Exception for diagnostic imaging, radiation oncology, physical therapy and anatomic pathology, but the budget plan also recommends prior authorization for power mobility devices and advanced imaging.

“President Obama’s budget threatens patient access to care and important imaging services through burdensome prior authorization requirements,” Tim Trysla, exectutive director of AMIC, said in a release. The organization would prefer to see adoption of physician-developed appropriate use criteria (AUC), which has been proven effective in driving appropriate imaging use.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) is also opposed to the budget plan.

“Numerous studies have shown prior authorization increases medical costs and administrative red tape while burdening patients and physicians with potential treatment delays,” the College stated.

The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) had already expressed concern over preauthorization in 2013, in response to the 2014 budget, which also called for pre-authorization, stating in a release: “This provision was included in spite of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)’s acknowledgement that a prior authorization policy will yield no savings.”

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology in June 2011 evaluated the utility of radiology benefit managers (RBMs) and results showed that relying on RBMs to conduct prior authorization for advanced imaging increased costs and red tape, which placed additional burdens on clinicians and potentially delayed treatment.

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