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Lawmakers attempt to delay Medicare cuts for medical imaging

Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA) recently introduced the Access to Medicare Imaging Act (H.R. 5704), a bill that has come together with bipartisan support and calls for a two-year delay for the payment cuts set to begin for Medicare medical imaging services included in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act (DRA).

“These cuts, if enacted, will lead to reimbursement reductions of upwards of 30 to 50 percent for imaging services that patients and their physicians rely on to properly detect, diagnose, and treat life-threatening conditions. A delay in the implementation of these cuts is essential in order to give Congress a chance to fully understand how cuts of this magnitude could affect Medicare beneficiaries’ access to imaging services,” said Pitts. “In addition to calling for a two-year moratorium on the implementation of the cuts, my legislation also calls for a comprehensive Government Accountability Office (GAO) study to analyze the impact of the DRA’s payment methodology on patient access, with special attention to rural and medically underserved areas.”

Concerns over the impact of the DRA are widespread throughout healthcare. In an effort to stop or at least delay the DRA, a coalition of patient advocacy groups have banded together to form the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC). Some feel that the cuts called for within the DRA were approved without any research or substantive background.

Fuji 1st to offer CR mammography in U.S.

FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA’s digital mammography solution — Fuji Computed Radiography for Mammography (FCRm) — has gained FDA clearance to be sold in the United States. 

Fuji’s Vice President, Marketing and Network Business Development Clay Larsen stated that the nod from the FDA “represents the first cost-effective full field digital mammography system based on CR technology to have passed the extraordinarily rigorous PMA process of the FDA. 
The company highlighted a number of benefits of the FCRm, including:
  • Image Quality. FCRm provides 18 x 24 cm and 24 x 30 cm fields-of-view, 50-micron pixel sampling, and Fuji’s patented dual-side reading technology;
  • For a facility that performs both general radiography and mammography exams, the FCR reader provides multi-purpose capability and the potential for subsequent cost saving;
  • Unlike other full-field digital mammography (FFDM) systems, Fuji’s FCRm does not require replacing the existing mammography acquisition unit.
Fuji will be offering two system configurations — the multi-plate version that’s been available for general radiography since 2004, and the new single plate version.

Gingrich gives Senate big health IT to-do list

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich recently delivered testimony to the U.S. Senate covering his vision of health IT top priorities. They include: construction of a national network information network; a reimbursement system based more on quality outcomes; exceptions to Stark and anti-kickback laws; moving ahead with federal health IT laws; and tackling interoperability issues.

More information is available via Gingrich’s organization:

Chest x-ray could increase chance of breast cancer in some

Women with a certain gene mutation (BRCA 1/2) could be at greater risk of developing breast cancer if they undergo chest x-ray exams, and the risk is even greater if the exposure occurs before the age of 20, according to research conducted by a consortium of European cancer centers published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study evaluated 1,600 women at a genetically higher risk for breast cancer.

While all women in the study were carriers of the gene mutation, not all had developed breast cancer. The study questionnaire asked whether participants received a chest x-ray, and also focused on the age at which the exam occurred — before age 20, after age 20, or during both periods — and the amount of exams. According to the responses, the study found that women who reported having a chest x-ray were 54 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who had never undergone the procedure. In comparison with women who had never been exposed, women who were before age 20 had a 2.5-fold increased risk of developing the disease before age 40.

Fujitsu unveils touch screen notebook for healthcare

Fujitsu Computer Systems Corporation is offering a new ‘ultra-portable’ LifeBook B6210 touch screen notebook with enhancements such as longer battery life and the latest Intel Core Solo Processor Ultra Low Voltage.

The 3.2 pound LifeBook B6210 notebook — for use in healthcare, field-force automation and other forms-intensive workplaces — is equipped with a bright 12.1-inch XGA display offering the flexibility of touch screen input and the productivity of a notebook computer. The notebook can run with either Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 or Microsoft Windows XP Professional, the company said.