AMIC responds to Senate proposals for new imaging policies

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Imaging provisions contained in the Senate Finance Committee's proposals for healthcare delivery reform are "forward-thinking" policies that will ensure proper diagnostic imaging utilization over the long term, according to the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC).

The Senate Finance Committee, led by Committee Chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, met Wednesday in a closed-door walk through to review proposed changes and legislation aimed at healthcare delivery reform.

Specifically, AMIC said it endorses the Finance Committee's proposal to promote adherence to appropriateness criteria for imaging services. By designating a nationally recognized, physician-developed appropriateness criteria, together with an education and confidential feedback program to report patterns of adherence to those criteria, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be provided with information to limit inappropriate imaging while maintaining patients' access to needed imaging services.

Additionally, the walk-through generated the idea to establish a U.S. Diagnostic Imaging Exchange Network (DIEN) that would allow physicians to access a patient's past imaging studies in order to determine the necessity, safety and appropriateness of ordering a new scan. AMIC said that a DIEN would "produce savings to the Medicare program by eliminating many duplicative scans, while improving patient safety, through the reduction of radiation exposure."

Another proposal called for transparency in self-referrals policy, requiring physicians to disclose their financial interest in pre-identified imaging services.

However, AMIC said that it remains "very concerned" about the potential inclusion of a policy promoting the use of radiology benefit managers (RBMs) to control Medicare beneficiaries' access to certain imaging services. "Physicians who deal with RBMs say they undermine patient care, force patients to wait to receive needed tests, and cause delays in diagnosis and care," AMIC stated.