Senators: Obama should look to decision support, not Medicare cuts

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Medicare cuts for imaging are restricting access to care for America’s most vulnerable while stifling innovation and jobs growth—a planned eighth round of cuts in five years must be stopped, wrote a group of U.S. senators in a letter to President Barack Obama.

"Rural practices are shutting down, physicians are being forced to hang on to outdated equipment and medical imaging manufacturers are scaling back research and development, the results of continued cuts to Medicare reimbursements for imaging. The consequences are more seniors and disabled Americans without access to quality or any care and dwindling payrolls at some of the country’s medical imaging innovators," wrote seven U.S. senators in a July 20 letter sent to the President.

The senators were responding to seven rounds of Medicare cuts enacted since 2006 and more en route through 2013.

“These cuts are stifling this home-grown medical innovation and leaving seniors and disabled Americans without access to the care they need to diagnose and treat life-threatening diseases such as heart disease and cancer,” wrote Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and six others, including two Republicans.

The letter pointed to recent trends indicating drops in imaging utilization and cited imaging as one of the slowest growing services in Medicare. With many reimbursements now half what they were in 2006, the senators looked to technology as the more viable alternative to cuts.

“We are ready to work with you [President Obama] to promote clinical decision support systems in Medicare to ensure doctors have the latest clinical guidelines at their fingertips—a proven approach in the private sector,” the senators offered.