Patient groups call for CMS to cover AI in radiology

A group of 15 patient advocacy organizations have urged lawmakers to work with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to establish a formalized payment pathway for AI healthcare services.

In a May 13 letter to representatives Kay Granger (R-TX) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the groups noted that in radiology, AI is being used to help read and interpret images and help make more informed diagnoses.

“From helping a physician detect polyps in a colonoscopy to prioritizing a scan showing a doctor that a patient needs an emergency intervention, AI in medical imaging benefits patients,” the groups wrote.

Currently, CMS has only assigned payment for less than 10 AI applications, compared with the 600 plus AI-enabled medical devices that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved or cleared, the groups noted. Ultimately, the groups said that it is essential for these technologies to reach all patients, regardless of their location or socioeconomic status.

“We cannot afford to exacerbate existing healthcare disparities by restricting access to cutting-edge AI-enabled medical devices only to those who can pay out-of-pocket,” the groups wrote.

In related news, on May 9, American College of Radiology CEO William Thorwarth Jr., MD, issued a nine-page letter to Congress recommending how to solve the reimbursement problem for AI in healthcare.

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