Organizations blast imaging cuts in Obamas budget

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The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC), American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) have protested the Obama Administration’s proposed budget for 2013, which contains imaging cuts projected to save $820 million over 10 years. The groups argued that the cuts would restrict access to imaging, raise costs and impact manufacturing jobs.

The administration’s proposal would increase the assumed utilization rate of advanced imaging equipment and impose a Medicare prior-authorization program for advanced diagnostic imaging services.

These cuts may force many suburban and rural imaging providers to limit services to seniors, place a higher cost burden on Medicare for more expensive hospital imaging care and force the elderly to compete for already tightly scheduled hospital appointments, the ACR said.

“These provisions place potential barriers to life-saving care before our nation’s seniors. A 2009 study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that increased use of imaging is directly related to increased life expectancy. Any form of limited access to advanced diagnostic imaging runs counter to our national goal of a healthier population. We therefore call on Congress to reject these budget proposals for the bad policy that they are,” said John A. Patti, MD, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors.

AMIC, ACR and MITA noted the series of eight imaging cuts since 2006 as well as the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s acknowledgment that imaging spending declined in 2010 to approximately the same level as 2004.

“Reducing seniors’ access to early disease detection by cutting imaging reimbursements and adding an unworkable prior authorization system will negatively impact health outcomes, lead to more healthcare spending and is contrary to the president’s goal of spurring advanced manufacturing in communities across our country,” said Gail Rodriguez, executive director of MITA.

Tim Trysla, executive director of AMIC, added, “These policies would also mean a direct hit on high-tech manufacturing, which is exactly contrary to the administration’s stated goal of preserving and creating these types of jobs at home.”