As the congressional session draws to a close, American College of Radiology (ACR) leaders and staff continue to engage House and Senate offices to avert Medicare provider cuts and improve surprise billing protections in year-end legislation.

Congress Must #StopTheCuts

According to ACR officials, Congress must act to mitigate looming Medicare payment cuts to more than a million healthcare providers, including radiologists. “While the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the healthcare system, providers continue to contend with overflowing hospitals and the financial impact of the spring-summer government-recommended shutdown of non-urgent care,” ACR officials say. “Additive, double-digit Medicare cuts will devastate patient access, communities and providers.”

Advancing legislation to prevent the scheduled Medicare cuts remains the top legislative priority for the ACR. To date, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate have co-sponsored legislation and/or signed letters urging their leadership to act on this issue before the end of the year.

“The ACR supports H.R. 8702 and S. 5007. Congressional leadership must include these protections in the year-end omnibus package. Time is running out to avert more damage to healthcare access and local economies,” says Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors.

Improve Surprise Billing Protections

The ACR continues to review the “No Surprises Act ,” a recently released bipartisan, bicameral legislative framework to address “surprise” medical billing.

Association officials say the ACR is encouraged by improvements to the plan, including removal of a threshold to access an independent dispute resolution process and providing equal weight to all factors presented to the arbiter. “Yet the ACR remains concerned that publicly funded plans, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and workers compensation, are not excluded from arbiter consideration,” they add.

“The ACR appreciates Congress’ work to protect patients from unexpected medical bills and establish a fair and equitable system to resolve physicians-insurer payment disputes,” says Fleishon. “We urge lawmakers to engage with providers to make final improvements to the plan to gain a sensible policy that protects patients and patient access to care.”