On March 31, Congressional leaders passed legislation to extend the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) patch for 12 months as part of a bipartisan Medicare payment reform package. The imaging community appears fully supportive of the legislation and is celebrating the bill’s requirement that ordering physicians consult physician-developed appropriateness criteria when prescribing advanced imaging procedures for Medicare patients.

“As medical imaging is the cutting edge of modern medicine, this requirement is a major step forward in health care reform. Providers will have the latest medical evidence at their fingertips before a scan is ordered — ensuring that patients get the right exam for their condition and avoid unnecessary care. This will reduce unnecessary costs and help pave the way for a more responsive and efficient health care system,” said Paul H. Ellenbogen, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors.

The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition (AMIC) released this statement: “We are encouraged by the inclusion of an Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) policy to ensure proper use of medical imaging, rather than calling for restrictive, across-the-board reimbursement cuts for imaging services,” said Tim Trysla, executive director of AMIC. “The best way to support physicians in ordering the right diagnostic imaging scan at the right time is for Medicare to encourage physicians and patients to make treatment decisions that best suit individualized needs and circumstances.”