House makes progress on helium supply bill

Legislation that would stabilize the U.S. supply of helium, used to cool MRI magnets, took a step forward this week with the advancement of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Reps. Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) on March 20 held a markup of the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act (HR 527), which is designed to prevent the premature closure of the Federal Helium Reserve this year.

A markup is the first step needed to begin debate and hold a possible vote on the legislation.

In recent months, the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA) has warned that the U.S. helium supply has become tenuous, which could adversely affect MRI operations and healthcare in general.

Liquid helium is used to cool MRI magnets to temperatures suitable for imaging, and MRI systems must be refilled regularly to maintain normal operating temperatures.

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