Legislative Watch: AMIC Perseveres in Battling Imaging Cuts

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Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC) was organized in early 2006, soon after Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 which significantly reduced the level of funding for medical imaging services provided in independent imaging facilities and physician offices. AMIC represents more than 75,000 physicians and medical providers, as well as numerous patient advocacy organizations throughout the U.S. It also includes health technology firms that manufacture imaging equipment and supplies and that employ tens of thousands of American workers. AMIC represents those who develop medical imaging technologies, those who apply it, and those who benefit from it. The coalition conducts public affairs, advocacy, and educational activities to promote legislation to address medical imaging payment reduction issues.

2007 AMIC Activities

AMIC continues to work closely with a growing list of members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to delay the DRA Medicare imaging reductions, and to prevent any potential future cuts to imaging.

On February 28, 2007, Representative Carolyn McCarthy, along with Representative Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and Representative Gene Green (D-TX), and other cosponsors, introduced HR 1293, the Access to Medicare Imaging Act of 2007. This new legislation to delay further implementation of the DRA imaging cuts for two years. The House bill already has 90 cosponsors.

On May 8, 2007, Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Gordon H. Smith (R-OR) introduced a companion bill, S.1338, the Access to Medicare Imaging Act of 2007 which also calls for a two-year delay of the DRA imaging reductions to allow enough time for a thorough analysis of these issues by GAO.

Should Congress consider further cuts in imaging, both of these bills force members to stop and evaluate the impact of existing cuts in order to truly understand the profound effect they are having on access to care for Medicare beneficiaries and other patients.

In addition, AMIC has retained the Moran Company to analyze the effect of the DRA. AMIC released the new Moran report, Assessing the Deficit Reduction Act Limits on Imaging Reimbursement: Cross-Site Comparisons of Cost and Reimbursement, Pre- and Post-DRA in February 2007. The report found that the cuts in Medicare imaging payments under the DRA mean that total Medicare reimbursement for imaging services in physician offices and imaging centers will fall an estimated 18% to 19% below total reimbursement for similar services in hospital outpatient departments. This is in sharp contrast to pre-DRA reimbursement levels, which were roughly the same in both Medicare systems, once differences in system structure were adjusted for.

The Moran report also found that a large majority of imaging procedures affected by the DRA will be paid below the estimated costs of performing the service:

In 2007, 155 out of the 174 (89%) procedures that are capped by the DRA and for which complete data are available will be paid at rates less than the estimated cost of performing the service.

In 2010, 204 out of the 206 (99%) procedures that will be capped by the DRA and for which complete data are available will be paid at rates less than the estimated cost of performing the service.

For a copy of the report, please go to http://www.imagingaccess.org/reports/docs/amic_moran_rpt_022707.pdf

How You Can Help

If you are concerned about DRA and the very real possibility of future imaging cuts, particularly as Congress continues to search for ways to pay for other items on its health care agenda, there are a number of actions you can take:

AMIC is collecting “real world” examples of how the DRA cuts are affecting patients, providers and physicians. We will use this information to support our efforts to avoid further imaging cuts. Please go to http://www.imagingaccess.org/advocacy/dra_survey.cfm if you would like to share your experiences.

Set up a link to the AMIC website, www.imagingaccess.org for your organization.

Send an e-mail, directly to Congress. You can modify AMIC’s suggested letters for patients, physicians, employees, and providers. These can be found by going to http://capwiz.com/imagingaccess/issues/alert/?alertid=9000676&type=CO . Direct others to the site as well.

Join AMIC.