Self-referral foes fail to add amendment to healthcare reform bill

By Kate Madden Yee, AuntMinnie.com staff writer

September 24, 2009 -- Advocates of legislation to ban physician self-referral for imaging tests yesterday withdrew a bid to add the proposal to a healthcare reform bill under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the American College of Radiology (ACR) of Reston, VA.

On September 23, Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Bruce Braley (D-IA) put forth to the House Energy and Commerce Committee the amendment they had proposed earlier for inclusion into HR 3200, or America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. The amendment, originally introduced as a standalone bill on June 19 by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) as HR 2962, would have closed a loophole in the Stark law that bans physician referral to entities in which they have a financial interest.

But Weiner and Braley withdrew the amendment that same day, after speaking with House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), according to Josh Cooper, senior director of government relations for ACR.

"Congressman Weiner spoke with Chairman Waxman, and he expressed a desire not to put it to vote, because of time constraints -- there are many, many other amendments -- and because it is a controversial measure," Cooper said.

Waxman did agree to work with Weiner and Braley throughout the rest of the legislative process to try to address the issue of self-referral, Cooper said.

"If we are to take Waxman at his word, which, of course, we do, there may be other avenues that can be explored during this process that can get at the problem," he said. "The ongoing process includes not only the House legislation, of course, but conference between the House and the Senate and other potential opportunities to add amendments."

What's next? The House is expected to nail down its version of healthcare reform -- melding three bills out of three different committees -- and the Senate should do the same. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) released the Finance Committee's bill on September 16; that bill has gone back to markup. It's unclear when the Senate will vote on its final product.

In any case, Weiner's and Braley's efforts are appreciated, according to Cooper.

"We're very pleased that Weiner and Braley took this issue to the level they did," Cooper said.

By Kate Madden Yee
AuntMinnie.com staff writer
September 24, 2009

Self-referral amendment doesn't make the cut in House reform bill, August 3, 2009

Hopes dim for House anti-self-referral amendment, July 24, 2009

Self-referral bill may be folded into health reform, July 21, 2009

House bill would close Stark in-office loophole, July 2, 2009

MedPAC: Self-referring docs use more imaging, June 23, 2009

Copyright © 2009 AuntMinnie.com

 

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