Senate bill would undo 25% payment cut for multiple scans

A bipartisan team has introduced the Diagnostic Imaging Services Access Protection Act (S 623) in the Senate. The bill would undo the 25% Medicare multiple procedure payment reduction (MPPR) for interpretation of advanced diagnostic imaging scans performed on a single patient during a single session.

Sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the bill has a counterpart in the House, HR 846, which was introduced by Reps. Pete Olson (R-TX), Peter Roskam (R-IL), John Barrow (D-GA), and Betty McCollum (D-MN) and is cosponsored by 72 members from both parties.

"This Medicare funding cut affects care for the most sick or injured patients -- such as those with massive head and body trauma, stroke, or widespread cancer -- who often require interpretations by different doctors to survive," noted the American College of Radiology (ACR), which supports the bill, in a statement.

The 25% cut addressed by the legislation has little effect on the number of scans ordered because radiologists rarely order exams; they perform exams ordered by other providers, according to the organization.

Still, because each image dataset requires separate interpretation, the radiologist is morally and ethically obliged to spend the same time and effort reading each image regardless of the date of service, the statement said. A 2012 study showed that any efficiencies gained by performing more than one scan on a patient in a session are variable and much less than policymakers assert.

According to the Library of Congress THOMAS search engine, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance on March 20.

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