A bipartisan group of senators, among them John Kerry (D-MA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), last week sent a letter to the Obama Administration urging the president against any further cuts in Medicare imaging reimbursement. As both political parties seek an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, the timing of the senators' letter is indicative of a growing concern that new cuts to imaging might be part of a final agreement.
The senators highlighted that multiple cuts to imaging reimbursement beginning with 2006's Deficit Reduction Act were already negatively affecting patients' access to life saving advanced imaging technology, and stifling "medical innovation" and job growth in their states (many of the Senators are from states home to medical imaging manufacturers). With further imaging cuts already scheduled for 2012 and 2013, the senators urged President Obama to grant imaging a reprieve and ignore proposals for more reimbursement cuts "in the name of deficit reduction" or to offset future spending.
Instead of further imaging cuts, the senators argued that the administration should back alternative reforms that ensure each patient receives "appropriate access to imaging when necessary." They suggested a willingness to work with the president to promote clinical decision support systems coupled with imaging appropriateness criteria to ensure that physicians have the tools to provide patients with the most appropriate and highest quality care.
Be sure to check back here for any further imaging related developments in the current debt ceiling proceedings. The Partnership will also be releasing an imaging payment update in the coming weeks, providing in-depth analysis of recent changes to imaging reimbursement and unpacking the content of Medicare's 2012 Proposed Rules.