Will Connecticut fix its budget woes on the backs of radiology patients?

Earlier this year, Connecticut cut Medicaid reimbursement rates for OB-GYN and radiology. In June, the Nutmeg State’s general assembly voted to restore the former in large part but the latter barely at all. Some say the radiology cut—$4.45 million, a whopping 42.5%—will block access to care for many patients who need it most.

“You can’t do a mammogram for $20,” Jean Weigert, MD, director of women’s imaging at Mandell and Blau MDs, an independent imaging center, told CTNewsJunkie.com. “You can’t survive in an office performing $6 chest x-rays.”

The website reported that the state government did restore a $500,000 cut to radiology rates for ultrasounds for high-risk pregnancies—but resolved to reimburse other radiology services at just 57.5% of the 2007 Medicare fee schedule.

Robert Russo, MD, a radiologist and the current president of the Connecticut Medical Society, said that, instead of seeing five Medicaid patients per day, imaging centers will now see one. This “essentially creates an access issue for those who need these preventative services,” including women due for mammograms and smokers in need of chest x-rays, CTNewsJunkie reported.

If sustained in a special session not yet scheduled, the hits to radiology reimbursement will affect a “very risky” segment of the population, said Ellen Andrews, executive director of the Connecticut Health Policy Project. “Cutting things indiscriminately,” she added, “means you’re going to see the cost go up somewhere else,” such as for care of late-detected cancers.

Connecticut’s budget battles have been much in the news of late, most notably when three of the largest companies in the state—GE, Aetna and Travelers Insurance—protested tax increases and suggested they were considering relocating to other states.  

Russo told CTNewsJunkie that it’s senseless to endlessly talk about improving a healthcare system to which so many will lack access. Read the full article here