After 12 Years, CARE Act Seems Poised for Passage, ASRT Rep Says

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After warming the benches for 12 years in the halls of the U.S. Congress, the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility, and Excellence (CARE) in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy bill (S. 3338) was introduced in the Senate with the bipartisan sponsorship of Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Tom Harkin (D-IA). Its counterpart in the House of Representatives has accumulated 125 signatories since its introduction by Ed Whitfield (R-KY) one year ago this month.

The CARE Act will empower the Department of Health and Human Services to create and issue a set of professional standards by which to license professional imaging technicians.

“The CARE Act applies to providers performing medical imaging, planning and delivering radiation therapy, and measure the clinical effectiveness of medical radiation-emitting equipment,” reads a press release from the U.S. Senate.

“The bill specifically exempts providers with advanced training including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants,” the statement reads. “The CARE Act would not impact state’s rights, and state legislators and regulators would not need to change existing state law to comply.”

According to a press release from the American Society of Radiologic Technicians (ASRT), the legislation is necessary because the existing educational standards to which imaging professionals are held “are voluntary and inconsistent in many states,” six of which (plus Washington D.C.) do not require any qualifications of imaging personnel.

Christine J. LungChristine J. Lung (left), VP of government relations and public policy for ASRT, said she thinks this is a good time for the bill since an election season usually triggers heightened Congressional activity on medical policy.

“I think a number of incumbents would like to show their constituents that they are doing things that their constituents like,” she tells Imagingbiz.

Lung said she thinks CARE has a chance of being “caught up in the momentum” of end-of-session Medicare programs that will likely be renewed, in which she feels that “CARE may be a very good fit.

“We think that it may even provide a cost offset to preserve some programs that are set to expire,” Lung said. She thinks the bill is now ready to move at any time between now and December 2012.