Senate Bill to Stop MPPR Picks Up Four New Cosponsors

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Four additional senators — two Republicans and two Democrats, have signed on to S. 623, the Diagnostic Imaging Services Access Protection Act of 2013, which seeks to bar the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from applying the multiple procedure payment reduction (MPPR) policy to the professional component of imaging services until it can publish evidence that the reduction is warranted because it reflects actual real efficiencies for radiologists reading two or more studies are performed on the same patient on the same day.

The ACR and other advocates for the bill have pointed out that radiologists are ethically obligated to give the same attention to every image done on a patient regardless of whether the images were taken on the same day or not. Therefore, one cannot apply an MPPR policy based on assumed efficiencies in reading second and subsequent scans without evidence that radiologists are indeed spending less time and effort reading these subsequent scans.

The four senators adding their support to the bill are:
• Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
• Sen. Edward “Ed” Markey (D-Mass)
• Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan)
• Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich)

This brings the total number of cosponsors to 16. Of these, nine are Democrats and seven are Republicans. The bill was introduced by in March by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Mich) and is currently referred to the Senate Finance Committee. It is the companion bill (Senate version) of the House bill, H.R. 846, the Diagnostic Imaging Services Access Protection Act of 2013, which currently has 175 cosponsors.

Although neither bill is likely to make it out of committee and to the Senate or House floor for a full vote, having a large number of co-sponsors from both parties increases the odds that the language of the bills will be picked up and added to a larger piece of health care legislation, such as the sustainable growth rate (SGR) fix, that will be voted on. This was the strategy attempted in the last session of Congress for the previous legislative effort to stop implementation of the MPPR on the professional component.

Radiology lobbying efforts over the August congressional recess included inviting legislators to tour imaging facilities in their districts. Among the tours held according to RadPac were:

• Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla) toured Lake Medical Imaging in Leesburg, Fla.
• Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS, (R-Ariz) addressed the Arizona Radiology Society Meeting
• Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex) visited Radiology & Imaging of Corpus Christi, Tex.
• Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) toured InterMountain Imaging of Boise, Idaho
• Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) visited Windsong Radiology of Hamburg, NY