AMIC: Reduced DEXA payments may curb screening, up fracture incidence

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The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC) is urging the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to consider the correlation between Medicare reimbursement and patient outcomes as it advises Congress about physician payments. 

In a letter to MedPAC, AMIC highlighted a study on dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) screenings for osteoporosis that illustrates the correlation between inadequate Medicare reimbursement and adverse patient outcomes.

The study, published in the December 2011 issue of Health Affairs, found that DEXA testing in all Medicare Part B settings plateaued in 2007-2009 after the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and regulations cut Part B imaging payments, following a decade of growth in the use of DEXA to detect osteoporosis. According to the study, in those years, 800,000 fewer tests than expected were performed for Medicare beneficiaries—tests that might have prevented 12,000 fractures and their associated healthcare costs, the AMIC stated.

“Bottom line, had the rates not been cut, we would not have seen that devastating number of fractures,” said Donna Fiorentino, co-author of the Health Affairs study, in a statement issued by AMIC.