Senate questions HHS nominee on medical imaging

By staff writers

April 17, 2009 -- The U.S. Senate's Finance Committee has submitted questions regarding the growth of medical imaging to President Barack Obama's nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, according to the American College of Radiology in Reston, VA.

As part of her confirmation process, Sebelius addressed questions on medical imaging reimbursement, radiology benefits management (RBM) firms, and the proposed changes to the equipment utilization rate that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has made to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) asked Sebelius how she believes RBMs and preauthorization could be effective in a system like Medicare, which has no experience with the tool.

Sebelius did not outline how RBMs could work in Medicare, writing only in her response that "both the Congressional Budget Office and CMS's Office of the Actuary have estimated Medicare savings from the use of RBMs."

When questioned about whether the effect of MedPAC's recommendations to CMS that the equipment utilization rate be increased to 90% would be positive or negative if implemented, Sebelius wrote that the data need to be evaluated again.

"The MedPAC recommendation is based on their analysis of data from two surveys, one of which was sponsored by MedPAC," she wrote. "Medicare policies need to be based on sound analysis, consistent with current statutory requirements, and conducted with full opportunity for public notice and comment."

The American College of Radiology and other organizations have been working to "educate" Senate Finance Committee staff on medical imaging and radiation oncology issues and the role radiologists, radiation oncologists, and medical physicists serve in the healthcare arena, the college said.

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Outgoing Bush health chief urges Medicare changes, January 16, 2009

Copyright © 2009


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