Radiology providers treating Medicare recipients may have an additional hoop through which to jump in serving this patient population. A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives proposes to set minimum education and certification standards for technical personnel who plan, offer, and deliver imaging exams and radiation therapy treatments within the Medicare program.
Co-sponsored by Ed Whitfield (R-Ken.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, and John Barrow (D-Ga.), and supported by a bipartisan group of 17 Representatives, the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence (CARE) in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy bill (H.R. 2104) “would ensure that a patient who undergoes a medical imaging or radiation therapy procedure paid for through Medicare has the services performed by a professional with appropriate education and competency assessment through certification,” according to Whitfield. It would also “ensure that taxpayer dollars are only being spent on those procedures performed by qualified individuals.”
According to a statement issued by Whitfield’s office, the capture of medical images by technicians who lack proper training can result in misdiagnosis, additional testing, and treatment delays, all of which add up to more costs for the healthcare system.
“By setting minimum education and certification standards for the technical personnel involved in these procedures, Congress can address these concerns and assure patients that imaging and therapy personnel are qualified while also being responsible with taxpayer dollars spent on these procedures,” Whitfield asserts.
The bill is supported by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), the American Society for Radiation Oncology, and the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy. ASRT has been advocating for federal standards for medical imaging and radiation therapy procedures since 1998. In a statement, ASRT officials claim six states – Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Missouri, North Carolina, and South Dakota, along with Washington, D.C.—have no means of regulating individuals performing medical imaging or radiation therapy.
“Healthcare professionals and organizations continue to back the bill because they understand that education and certification standards will lead to better patient care and improved safety measures,” says ASRT President James Temme.
The bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Committee on Ways and Means.