AMA delegates support higher payments for breast imaging

Concerned that the crisis in screening-mammography access for women is not improving, the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association has asked for an intensified effort by the AMA to get relief in the form of increased payments for the service.

"For many years and for many hospitals and clinics, performing annual mammographies for breast cancer was considered sort of as a 'loss leader' in getting new patients," said Dr. LaMar McGinnis, senior medical consultant for the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society. "But now the loss has become too great, and these mammography centers are closing down. The situation, instead of improving, is worsening." McGinnis made his comments at the 2002 delegates meeting last month in Chicago.

"In fact, in the past three years the number of mammography screening clinics in the U.S. has fallen...," McGinnis said, "This is becoming a major health-access issue for women."

He added that another area of concern is that mammography fellowships are not being filled. "That could put us into a situation where even if women can get a mammogram, there may be no one available to interpret the result," he said. On top of that, liability costs for doctors who read mammograms are increasing at the same time that payments for performing the procedures are decreasing, he pointed out.

The resolution, which calls for an enhanced effort by the AMA to address funding for mammography centers, was introduced by the delegation from New York, but had strong backing from other delegations, including the American College of Surgeons.

In a hearing before the medical service committee of the House of Delegates, numerous speakers backed the resolution that asks the AMA to "strongly endorse the positions of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Cancer Society, and the American College of Radiology that all women have screening mammography as per current guidelines."

A second part of the resolution asked the AMA to work toward legislation that would ensure adequate funding for mammography services and timely access to breast cancer screening for all women.

By Edward Susman
AuntMinnie.com contributing writer
July 1, 2002

Related Reading

Mammographers question newspaper’s ‘crusade’ against breast imaging, June 28, 2002

New York Times takes mammographers to task, June 27, 2002

More cancer screening linked to earlier detection, May 9, 2002

Residents shy away from breast imaging, survey shows, April 15, 2002

CMS floats 10% cut for 2002 mammography reimbursement, August 21, 2001

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