ACR Increases Lobbying Against Further Medicare Cuts to Imaging

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The ACR has increased efforts to protect imaging from further Medicare cuts, following the fiscal cliff deal that would cut $800 million from imaging over the next ten years.

Paul H. Ellenbogen, MD, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors, sent a letter to high ranking members of the Senate Finance Committee, House Way and Means Committee, and House Energy and Commerce Committee criticizing repeated cuts to imaging to cover the 1-year fix for the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.

According to the letter, imaging reimbursement has been cut 12 times since 2006, and further reductions in (non-contrast) lower and upper extremity MRI reimbursement in the 2013 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule threaten the quality of patient care. Ellenbogen urged lawmakers to adopt a quality-based imaging utilization and management policy that would mandate the use of appropriateness criteria by referring physicians in the ordering of advanced imaging studies.

In addition, the ACR started the “Stand Up for Radiology” program, a grassroots advocacy initiative launched by the ACR’s Government Relations office. The program invites radiologists from key states or Congressional districts to travel to Washington, DC, for meetings with targeted members of the House and Senate to discuss pressing imaging issues.

On February 6 and 7, Linda Reilman, MD, Ross Golding, MD, Peter Peer, MD, and Bruce Burton, MD, traveled from Ohio, Nevada, Michigan, and Kentucky, respectively, to visit federal elected officials, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The visits focused on the need to prevent further cuts to imaging reimbursement with the upcoming deadlines surrounding the federal “sequester,” a series of steep mandatory spending cuts initiated by Congress through the passage of the Budget Control Act in August 2011.

“Stand Up For Radiology” is currently focused on the forthcoming reintroduction of legislation to block the 25% professional component multiple procedure payment reduction (PC MPPR), specifically the Diagnostic Imaging Services Access Protection Act. In addition, the campaign is pressing for mandated use of imaging appropriateness criteria by referring physicians within the Medicare program.

“Stand Up for Radiology” will continue during the week of February 24 when radiologists from Montana, New York and Maryland will travel to Washington, DC, to meet with other key federal elected officials, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD).