New U.S. budget brings good news for mammography

2015 12 17 11 05 54 942 Capitol Hill Christmas 200

It could be a Christmas miracle: Both houses of Congress have introduced legislation that includes good news for mammography screening.

HR 2029, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, includes a provision that would place a two-year moratorium on implementation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) 2015 draft recommendations on breast cancer screening. Instead, insurers would be directed to follow the task force's 2002 guidance, which recommended that women 40 years and older undergo screening mammography every one to two years.

Managing the MPPR

The legislation also includes an amendment of the 25% payment cut to the professional component of the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule that is mandated by the Multiple Procedure Payment Reduction (MPPR). The bill would limit the MPPR reduction to 5%.

This rollback is a clear victory, according to Cynthia Moran, executive vice president for government relations at the American College of Radiology (ACR).

"In 2014, Congress passed legislation that instructed CMS to reveal their analysis to justify their regulatory-imposed 25% reduction," she told "CMS has never complied with this statutory request, so now the Congress -- at our urging -- has finally addressed this issue."

Gifts of the season

If passed, the bill will also provide a two-year moratorium on the 2.3% excise tax on the sale of medical devices under the Affordable Care Act, which is great news, according to the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA).

"MITA is encouraged by the inclusion of the two-year suspension of the medical device tax in the tax extenders package, which comes at a crucial time for the medical technology industry," board chair Nelson Mendes said in a statement.

Finally, the legislation would provide $356.2 million in funding for programs run by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancer screening -- an increase of $3.5 million over this year's levels.

Congress has until December 22 to pass the bill.

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