News | February 14, 2012

Imaging Cuts in Administration Budget Unfounded and Threaten Barriers to Care for America’s Seniors

John A. Patti, M.D., FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors.

February 14, 2012 — The American College of Radiology (ACR) called on Congress to reject what would be the eighth cut to Medicare funding for imaging scans in the last six years and protect the ability of seniors to receive this live-saving care. ACR labeled the administration’s proposed budget as unsupported, a threat to patient access to care, and risking increased long-term Medicare costs.

The administration’s proposal would increase the assumed utilization rate of advanced imaging equipment and impose a Medicare prior-authorization program for advanced diagnostic imaging services. The proposal claims that these cuts will save $820 million over ten years. ACR claims that continued cuts may force many suburban and rural imaging providers to limit services to seniors, placing a higher cost burden on Medicare for more expensive hospital imaging care, and forcing the elderly to compete for already tightly scheduled hospital appointments.

“These provisions place potential barriers to life-saving care before of our nation’s seniors," said John A. Patti, M.D., FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors. "A 2009 study (www.nber.org/papers/w15068) conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that increased use of imaging is directly related to increased life expectancy. Any form of limited access to advanced diagnostic imaging runs counter to our national goal of a healthier population.  We therefore call on Congress to reject these budget proposals for the bad policy that they are."

In a statement, ACR claimed the cuts represent bad policy and are unnecessary. Medicare spending on medical imaging is at roughly the same level as in 2004. ACR said the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has confirmed that imaging use actually decreased in 2010, and most Americans are clearly against any further funding reductions for imaging.

“A national poll (www.radiologysaveslives.org/poll-data) of 1,000 registered voters has shown that nearly 90 percent of Americans believe more imaging cuts will affect early detection of medical conditions and diseases. A full 70 percent of Americans oppose further Medicare cuts to medical imaging. Members of Congress need to listen to their constituents and reject further imaging cuts,” Patti said.

For more information: www.radiologysaveslives.org

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