Imaging societies seek RVU budget neutrality waiver

By staff writers

October 13, 2020 -- The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) has joined with several other imaging societies to lobby Congress to waive relative value unit (RVU) budget-neutrality requirements that would impose sharp reimbursement cuts to radiology and nuclear medicine under the proposed 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS).

In a joint letter to Congress, the societies said that although they agree with the increased payment rates for evaluation and management (E/M) recommended by the American Medical Association, these changes would result in payment reductions of approximately 11% for radiology and 8% for nuclear medicine unless the government waives budget neutrality for the relative value unit (RVU) increases in the proposed 2021 MPFS. The current planned decrease in the 2021 conversion factor will be below the 1994 conversion factor of $32.9050, which is approximately $58.02 today, the organizations said.

"We do not oppose improving payments for E/M billed office visits, like primary care, but this moment is the wrong time for significant cuts to essential services," they wrote. "The drastic budget-neutrality adjustments required by CMS will cripple specialty providers unless Congress acts to waive budget neutrality. The proposed Medicare cuts would force many offices to close, furlough, or lay off employees, delay hiring new physicians and staff, stop or limit research, and delay new or replacement equipment purchases."

Without addressing certain inequities using other funding mechanisms, finalizing the MPFS will result in access issues for Medicare beneficiaries and further drive independent physicians and other healthcare providers toward market consolidation, according to the societies. The SNMMI noted that COVID-19 has already created substantial financial negative realities and continued uncertainties for healthcare practices that will generate lasting impacts long after the crisis has ended.

In addition to the SNMMI, other signatories to the letter include the following: the American College of Radiology (ACR), the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), the Association for Quality Imaging, the AHRA, the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA), the Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA), Shields Healthcare Group, and the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (SDMS).

Copyright © 2020

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