SNMMI, MITA host briefing to discuss expanding access to radiopharmaceuticals

Industry leaders, including the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) and the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA),  hosted a Capitol Hill Briefing July 17, to discuss a bipartisan bill that would expand patient access to diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals.

Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52), Rep. Bobby Rush (IL-01) and Rep. George Holding (NC-02) introduced the Medicare Diagnostic Radiopharmaceutical Payment Equity Act of 2019 on July 16 to ensure hospitals are adequately reimbursed through Medicare to cover high-value, low-volume diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals used in nuclear medicine exams.

The bill—HR 3772—would correct a reimbursement structure created by CMS in 2008 that treated radiopharmaceuticals as supplies, bundling them into the cost of procedures in the outpatient setting. The move limited patient access to innovative diagnostic tools and hindered innovation, according to an SNMMI statement

“Diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals are incredibly effective in the diagnosis of a number of different diseases, including prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and others,” said President of SNMMI, Vasken Dilsizian, in a prepared statement. “We’ve really only scratched the surface of potential with these technologies, and I expect we’ll see future improvements in these diagnostic tools if policy is adjusted to better reflect patient need.”

During the briefing, clinicians, patient advocates and industry representatives talked about the importance of HR 3772 in the evaluation and treatment of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, along with many types of cancers.

“Passing this bill would be a huge step in ensuring patient access and equitable reimbursement for these important diagnostic tools,” said Terri Wilson, chair of the MITA PET Group, in a prepared statement. “I applaud the original cosponsors of this legislation and urge their congressional colleagues to join them in supporting the Medicare Diagnostic Radiopharmaceutical Payment Equity Act.”

SNMMI is planning a letter-writing campaign and encourages patients the those in the nuclear medicine and molecular imaging community to help out.