2010 Medicare Payment Cuts Forcing Practices to Cut Back on Staff and Technology Upgrades

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Practices and imaging providers are being forced to cut back on staff and technology upgrades because of Medicare payment cuts, according to findings from a survey by the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC). The survey was conducted by phone and email, covering 131 physician practices and imaging providers from AMIC’s physician membership network across the United States.

According to the survey, nearly nine out of ten physician practices and imaging providers reported negative financial impact because of reduced payments. Among the practices that responded to the survey, 42 percent reported a reduction in clinical staff and more than 24 percent reported that they would not upgrade their imaging technology because of financial concerns.

The survey also revealed that practices and imaging providers, more than 43 percent in the survey, have increased administrative staff because of the use of radiology benefit managers (RBMs) by payors for prior authorization of imaging services.

“We’re seeing a troubling potential shift in staffing allocation amongst physician practices and imaging providers, with clinical staff being replaced by administrative staff, as practices respond to the financial squeeze of Medicare imaging cuts and the simultaneous increases in imaging authorization approval demands created by RBMs,” said Tim Trysla, executive director of AMIC, in the press release. “This reduction in supply of staff that provides crucial aid in patient treatment at physician practices and imaging providers is not good for care quality, and we need a system that prioritizes patient care before administrative paperwork.”