Imaging companies lobby Congress on Medicare cuts

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Medical imaging equipment companies and others in the imaging industry are fighting back against the imaging cuts in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA), which went into effect at the beginning of this year.

Companies and representative associations are lobbying Congress to overturn the cuts. The cuts reduced Medicare reimbursement to physicians and are expected to save $2.8 billion over five years. Reimbursement for MRI scans, for example, have decreased an average of 38 percent nationwide.

Lawmakers made the imaging cuts based on reports that providers were ordering excessive tests to boost profits. The imaging industry made almost $25 billion in revenue in 2006.

So far, Congress is turning a deaf ear to the effort. No hearings on the issue are scheduled and both democrats and republicans are working to further trim Medicare spending. Meanwhile, Medicare officials say they are monitoring whether patients are having trouble getting access to imaging. They also pointed out that payment reductions do not affect hospitals, where the majority of imaging services are performed.