CMS issues a 16% reversal in SPECT cuts to private practices, Lewin says

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SAN DIEGO—The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today issued a 16 percent increase to SPECT nuclear imaging reimbursements, which was cut by 36 percent under the 2010 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, Jack Lewin, CEO of the American College of Cardiology, said in an interview. He also said the agency is committing to return payments back to Jan. 1, when the cuts took effect.

“This is a technical fix on the part of the secretary [of the Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius] of a 16 percent average increase in payment to practices who endured the [36 percent cuts] starting on Jan. 1,” said Lewin, adding that it is the first such success in all the advocacy efforts of the various societies, including ACC and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology.

“We’re still stuck with the devastating cuts to echo, as well as the cuts to support services for nurses and staff in private practices, so we’re not done,” he said. Lewin said that the ACC is looking to add to the Gonzalez bill (which is now up to 120 co-sponsors), and reverse the cuts in the 2011 MPFS.

“It will take the government years to conduct an additional practice survey [which informed the decision of 2010 MPFS] at the rate they are going. We can ask them to undertake a new survey, but in the meantime, we need to continue to rectify the current cuts to make practices viable,” Lewin said.

He said the college is hoping that Congress will recommend using the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System to apply to office practices that add appropriate use criteria to all imaging. “The ACC will have appropriate use criteria tools for these practices,” Lewin said.