The American College of Radiology recently commended the U.S. Senate for its July 9 passage of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008.

The bill repeals a statutorily mandated 10.6 percent physician payment cut, which became effective July 1, as well as an additional 5 percent cut slated for Jan. 1, 2009. Instead, it offers a 0.5 percent payment increase for the rest of 2008 and a 1.1 percent update through 2009.

Additionally, the legislation called for the accreditation of advanced diagnostic imaging services providers, including MR, CT, PET, and nuclear medicine, in order to receive payment for the technical component of those services. Furthermore, it establishes a two-year voluntary demonstration program to test the use of physician-developed Appropriateness Criteria.

The 69-30 Senate vote and recent 355-59 passage of the bill by the U.S. House of Representatives represent the necessary support to override a threatened veto of the bill by President George W. Bush.

“The ACR is gratified that Congress has acted to preserve access to care for our nation’s seniors by averting this drastic reimbursement cut and at the same time increasing the quality of those services by enacting quality and safety standards for medical imaging providers,” said James H. Thrall, M.D., FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors. “Accreditation, as called for in this legislation, assesses the overall quality of a practice, including personnel, equipment, quality assurance (QA) activities, and ultimately the quality of patient care. The imaging provisions in this bill are a major step toward ensuring that beneficiaries receive consistent, quality care nationwide