13 Patient Groups Urge Congress to Reject Additional Imaging Cuts

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More than 45 patient advocates representing 13 groups hand delivered a letter to members of Congress urging them to not approve policies that may hinder access to advanced medical imaging.

Congress is currently weighing draft legislation to permanently repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that helps determine Medicare physician payments. The Congressional Budget Office expects that repealing the SGR will cost $175.5 billion over 10 years, and so far, the draft legislation does not indicate where this money will come from. However, in years past, temporary fixes to the SGR have been paid for with cuts to imaging. In addition, the president’s last budget proposed that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) use radiology benefit manager (RBMs) to help control the use of advanced medical imaging.

In the letter, the 13 patient advocacy organizations ask legislators to not make further imaging reimbursement cuts and support policies to encourage adoption of physician-developed appropriate use criteria for medical imaging over use of radiology benefits managers (RBMs) in Medicare.

The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) applauded the effort by the patient groups in a statement on its website. “Medical imaging and radiation therapy have transformed the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of diseases for everything ranging from cancer to arthritis to Alzheimer’s disease,” said Gail Rodriguez, executive director of MITA in the statement. “It is imperative that Congress work with patients and physicians to implement imaging policies and support coverage decisions that promote patient access to the right scan and the right therapy at the right time.”

The letter to Congress was signed by:
• American Urological Association
• Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation
• Colon Cancer Alliance, COLONTOWN
• Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association
• Kidney Cancer Association
• Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
• Lung Cancer Alliance
• Prevent Cancer Foundation
• Society for Women’s Health Research
• Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network
• Yes! Beat Liver Tumors
• ZERO — The End of Prostate Cancer

“Many cancer survivors like me would not be here today if not for medical imaging or radiation therapy,” said Suzanne Lindley, executive director and founder of YES! Beat Liver Tumors in the press release. “Implementing reasonable policies that protect, rather than restrict, patient access to these technologies is the only way to improve survivorship.”