SGR fix hammers imaging; MRI and obesity; SBRT vs. IMRT

Dear AuntMinnie Member,

It looks like 2013 is picking up where 2012 left off -- with more Medicare reimbursement cuts for medical imaging procedures.

U.S. politicians looking for a way to pay for a one-year "fix" to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula as part of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations found a familiar source of funds: radiology services. The legislation passed this week that implements the SGR correction also includes a change in the imaging equipment utilization rate, from the current 75% to 90% starting in 2014.

The change will reduce imaging payments by $800 million over 10 years, and by $300 million for radiation oncology. And that's on top of reductions in Medicare payments already proposed last year by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The cuts have been lambasted by radiology proponents, but it's hard to see what they can do about them, given that the legislation was signed by President Barack Obama last night.

Check out our article on the developments by clicking here, or visit the Imaging Leaders Digital Community at leaders.auntminnie.com.

MRI and obesity

In other news, researchers from Yale University have used functional MRI (fMRI) to detect signs of how a diet high in fructose could be affecting brain function -- specifically, by suppressing the neural signals that tell us to stop eating.

The researchers measured brain activity after volunteers drank beverages sweetened with fructose, an increasingly common and controversial sweetener, or glucose, which is metabolized differently by the body. The fMRI scans showed changes in brain activity that indicate those drinking the fructose beverages were less likely to feel satiated, which might lead to additional food-seeking behavior.

Read more by clicking here, or visit our MRI Digital Community at mri.auntminnie.com.

SBRT vs. IMRT

Finally, be sure to visit our Radiation Oncology Digital Community at radiation.auntminnie.com for an intriguing article that compares the cost-effectiveness of two types of radiation therapy for prostate cancer: stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). The story is available by clicking here.

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