The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC) has said it opposes the cuts proposed by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to hospital diagnostic imaging services reimbursements outlined in at a recent Energy & Commerce Committee hearing. According to AMIC, MedPAC’s proposal threatens patient access to diagnostic imaging services.

The plan would reduce Medicare’s hospital outpatient department payments for imaging and other ambulatory services down to the physician office payment level.

“Imaging is central to hospitals’ ability to provide 24/7 access to timely and definitive diagnoses, and hospitals’ capacity to care for clinically complex patients in the outpatient setting. We categorically reject MedPAC’s assertion that an ‘individual provider or sector’s higher costs is not an argument by itself for higher payments,’” said Tim Trysla, executive director of AMIC.

“With the repeated payment cuts over the last 8 years slashing physician office payments to inadequately low levels, and given the recent proven reduction in imaging utilization in the Medicare program, any further cuts will impair the value early detection brings to patient care,” Trysla added.

As an alternative, the association proposes the widespread adoption of Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC), which provides guidelines for clinicians prior to ordering imaging procedures. The most recent Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) patch legislation will require physicians to consult AUC for Medicare patients beginning January 1, 2017.