Battles Loom Over Possible Funding Cuts For MRIs
A Battle looms over possible funding cuts for MRIs amid health care reform efforts.
USA Today reports: "As Congress debates a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system, a battle is brewing over one provision that could affect the availability of MRIs and other tests, particularly in rural areas. A coalition of physicians and companies that make medical imaging equipment is lobbying lawmakers to reverse a proposal buried in some versions of health care legislation that would reduce Medicare payments to doctors offering scans in their offices. President Obama and some Democratic lawmakers say the cuts will curtail overuse of MRIs, CT scans and other imaging tests. Opponents counter that some physicians could be forced out of the testing business, reducing access for everyone - including patients with private insurance."
USA Today reports: "Medicare spending on imaging tests in doctor's offices cost $14 billion in 2006, more than double the amount in 2000, according to a Government Accountability Office study. The volume of imaging ordered for Medicare patients in doctor's offices grew 44% between 2002 and 2007, an independent congressional agency found. Groups lobbying against the change say paying doctors less for performing tests in their offices will make the practice unaffordable for some. If they shut down their in-house machines, doctors would send patients to hospitals that, in rural areas, could be miles away, or that, in large cities, could require long waits."
The paper also notes: "Doctors who perform MRIs and other tests in their offices have come under scrutiny in recent years because of financial connections some have to the testing facilities. The arrangement can encourage doctors to order unnecessary tests to increase profits, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a government agency, said in 2007" (Fritze, 7/17).