Representatives Introduce Legislation to Allow Medicare Payment for RA Services

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Seeking to lower health care costs while improving access to radiology services, House Representatives Dave Reichert (R-WA), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Pete Olson (R-TX), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), have introduced H.R. 1148, the “Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act of 2013.” The bill would expand the role of radiology assistants (RAs) by removing the current restrictions that keep the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from reimbursing for the services of RAs. The idea is that RAs who have graduated from an accredited medical imaging academic program and taken a national certification exam offered either by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or the Certification Board for Radiology Practitioner Assistants (CBRPA), can safely perform select imaging and patient-care duties traditionally performed by the radiologist at a fraction of the cost. H.R. 1148 is supported by the ARRT, the American College of Radiology (ACR), the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), and the Society of Radiology Physician Extenders (SRPE). The bill seeks to amend the Social Security Act to recognize radiologist assistants (RAs) as non-physician providers of healthcare services. This would authorize physician reimbursement through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for procedures performed by RAs in one of the 29 states that currently have laws establishing RA practice guidelines. Bill sponsor Rep. Reichert called the proposed Medicare reclassification of RAs a “common-sense change.” “These bright professionals train for years at accredited schools to master the complex technologies necessary to safely and effectively perform medical imaging services,” he said in a statement released by the ARRT. “At a time when many Americans are looking for work and high numbers of Medicare beneficiaries are increasing the demand for services, this legislation will be highly supportive for both radiologist assistants and patients.” Read the bill text.