Diagnostic Imaging Services Access Protection Act introduced in Senate

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Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and David Vitter (R-La.) have introduced the Diagnostic Imaging Services Access Protection Act (S. 623). The Senate bill corresponds with H.R. 846, recently introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Pete Olson (R-Tex.), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), John Barrow (D-Ga.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), and currently cosponsored by 72 bipartisan members of Congress.

S. 623 and H.R. 846 would correct a 25 percent Multiple Procedure Payment Reduction to Medicare reimbursement for interpretation of advanced diagnostic imaging scans performed on the same patient, in the same session. The funding cut affects care for patients—such as those with massive head and body trauma, stroke or widespread cancer—who often require interpretations by different doctors to survive.

The cut that S. 623 and H.R. 846 address has little to no impact on the number of scans ordered. Radiologists rarely order exams, but perform those ordered by other providers. Because each imaging procedure produces a set of images requiring individual interpretation, the radiologist is ethically and professionally obligated to expend the same time and effort reviewing each image, regardless of the date of service. A 2012 study showed that any efficiencies in physician interpretation and diagnosis when the same patient is provided multiple services on the same day are variable and, at most, one-tenth of what policy makers contend, according to the American College of Radiology.