Local, State, Federal

The Bill Box

NRC to Oversee NARM
In-Office Imaging Spending: Sunshine State Leads the Pack
New Jersey Introduces Bill on RPA Title

NRC to Oversee NARM

At the end of September, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) assumed regulatory authority over a specific category of radioactive materials in five states, Guam, and other US possessions, as outlined by the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005.

As part of the second phase of waiver terminations, Vermont, West Virginia, Idaho, Missouri, and South Dakota relinquished authority over their naturally occurring and accelerator-produced radioactive material (NARM), which the EPAct has dubbed by-product material and is therefore subject to NRC jurisdiction.

The NRC initially waived its authority, permitting the states to continue to regulate the material while the body developed new regulations. Final regulations became effective on November 30, 2007, at which time the NRC ended the waiver. The body then assumed authority for NARM held by federal agencies and licensees Delaware, Indiana, Montana, Washington, DC, Wyoming, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and federally recognized Indian tribes.

The 35 Agreement States, which regulate radioactive materials in cooperation with the NRC, have maintained regulatory authority over NARM.

Concerns have been raised regarding the growing stockpiles of NARM in labs and hospitals, with some questioning whether the radioactive material could encourage possible dirty terrorist bombs.

In-Office Imaging Spending: Sunshine State Leads the Pack

Florida Medicare beneficiaries led the nation in in-office imaging spending in 2006, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Medicare patients in Florida averaged more than $400 on imaging, with the state average amounting to $472 per enrollee. This figure is substantially more than costs in other states, most of which average less than $300 per enrollee, according to the South Florida Business Journal.

According to the GAO, Medicare spending for imaging doubled from 2000 to 2006. It reached up to $14.1 billion, which exceeds the growth rate of the federal program. The GAO document raised the issue of in-office equipment overuse, a suggestion that many in the imaging industry have criticized.

New Jersey Introduces Bill on RPA Title

New Jersey State Sen Christopher J. Connors introduced an amendment to the Radiologic Technologist Act on October 6, providing for the licensure and registration of radiology practitioner assistants (RPAs).

The radiology practitioner assistant is a new title in the field of medical imaging, according to the bill. "Radiology practitioner assistants are experienced, licensed primary care-givers with regard to patient assessment, patient management and in providing a broad range of radiology diagnostic and intervention services," the bill continues. "A radiology practitioner assistant acts under the supervision of a licensed radiologist."

Different from a licensed practitioner, a radiology practitioner assistant is certified and registered with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and credentialed to provide primary radiology health care under the supervision of a licensed radiologist, the bill stipulates.

Each applicant for licensure as a radiology practitioner assistant must complete the basic curriculum for a radiology practitioner assistant as approved by the board or its equivalent. Furthermore, a person holding a license as a radiology practitioner assistant may use the title "licensed radiology practitioner assistant" or the letters RPA after their name. No other person is entitled to use that title or those letters.