MITA protests Medicare imaging cuts to implement trade bills

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The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) said it was dismayed that the Senate Finance Committee would put senior citizens’ access to imaging, such as CTs and MRIs, at risk by proposing medical imaging reimbursement cuts to pay for the implementation of unrelated trade bills.

The $400 million in proposed Medicare cuts would be used to pay for an extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, included in a pending free trade agreement with South Korea.

“Asking senior citizens to compromise their healthcare and ability to access early detection to pay for deals made on free trade agreements is simply wrong,” said Dave Fisher, executive director of MITA. “MedPAC [Medicare Payment Advisory Commission] says the growth in advanced medical imaging is flat. Meanwhile, Congress and Medicare have cut imaging reimbursements five times in five years and today spending on medical imaging in Medicare is below 2006 levels. Enough is enough. Further cuts will reduce patients’ access to needed healthcare.”

MITA also reiterated that more than 60 Democratic and Republican House members recently sent a letter to Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp objecting to MedPAC’s proposal to cut Medicare reimbursements that would harm patient access to imaging services.

Also, Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts and Ranking Member Frank Pallone recently reminded MedPAC that imaging growth “has remained modest with spending in 2008 growing at 2.9 percent and 2009 levels decreasing by 2.1 percent. In addition, spending per beneficiary dropped by 1.5 percent from 2008 to 2009.”

The American Medical Association and Access to Medical Imaging Coalition also have protested the proposal.