AMIC Says Medicare Cuts for Imaging in SGR Package Harm Patient Access to Early Diagnosis
Washington, D.C — The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC) said today that the Medicare cuts for advanced imaging reimbursements the Senate passed as part of the package to avoid the fiscal cliff will harm patient access to diagnostic services and drive patients to receive the same services in more expensive hospital settings. The payment changes mark another imaging-targeted provision at a time when Congress has already enacted multiple payment cuts for imaging services in recent years, even though imaging use per Medicare beneficiary has declined since 2010.
“By putting in place yet another payment cut for imaging, Congress has further reduced patient access to vital early diagnosis that we know saves lives,” said Tim Trysla, AMIC’s executive director. “Unfortunately rather than basing payment decisions on up-to-date data, which show imaging use on the decline, Congress is blindly slashing Medicare payments for diagnostics without true knowledge about how their previous cuts affect seniors’ access to early diagnosis services. We know that cuts which already have gone into effect have forced physician practices and providers to scale back on clinical staff and forgo technology upgrades. This additional cut will further exacerbate those problems closing additional free-standing imaging centers and forcing patients to either forgo life-saving imaging or receive a scan in hospitals where they are more expensive.”
Numerous recent studies have demonstrated imaging use per beneficiary and spending has declined. The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) released a report in the fall showing that imaging utilization per Medicare beneficiary declined by 5.12 percent since 2009 and spending on imaging services for each Medicare beneficiary has
dropped 16.7 percent since 2006. That report was echoed by policy brief from the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute that shows medical imaging utilization and spending has declined since 2006, while the average length of hospital stay in the United States has increased.
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