Medical imaging coalition applauds imaging provisions in Medicare bill

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Sens. Max Baucus (front) and Chuck Grassley proposed bill praised by imaging coalition. Source: Politico  

The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC) Thursday praised the Senate Finance Committee leadership—Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Ranking Member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa—for including medical imaging provisions, as well as accreditation and appropriateness criteria for advanced diagnostic imaging services, in both versions of their proposed Medicare legislation.

The medical imaging provisions represent progress toward ensuring proper utilization of, and preserving seniors’ access to, medical imaging services, and should be part of any final physician payment legislation, according to AMIC, a consortium of patient advocates, physicians, providers and medical manufacturers.

“The use of appropriateness criteria is an essential step toward ensuring that beneficiaries have access to imaging that best suits their medical conditions,” said Tim Trysla, executive director of AMIC. “As imaging becomes increasingly integral to best practices in healthcare diagnosis and treatment, it is imperative that physicians and payors agree on which imaging services are appropriate, so that beneficiaries get the right scan at the right time. The accreditation and appropriateness criteria in both the Baucus and Grassley Medicare bills are important steps in that direction.”

The demonstration project, as outlined in the bills, would test the use of appropriateness criteria selected by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through consultation with relevant medical societies such as the American College of Radiology (ACR) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) at U.S. representative sites.

Both the ACR and ACC have already established appropriateness criteria for numerous imaging services, and the project will focus on advanced diagnostic imaging services, the coalition said. 

AMIC has previously called for HHS to conduct a pilot program to examine various strategies for ensuring that imaging services are used appropriately to meet patients' specific needs.

Rather than restrictive measures that put accountants in charge of treatment decisions, AMIC said that appropriateness criteria and accreditation will preserve the doctor-patient relationship while also helping Congress and CMS ensure that Medicare beneficiaries are receiving appropriate, high quality medical imaging services when needed.