Your support is needed for the Access to Medicare Imaging Act of 2006

The diagnostic imaging industry’s agenda for the coming months is clear: Pervasive grassroots efforts are needed to ensure that the Access to Medicare Imaging Act of 2006 helps rescind the damaging cuts that all imaging centers are now facing.

Passage of the Access to Medicare Imaging Act of 2006 (HR 5704) will prevent Section 5102 of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) from going into effect on January 1, 2007. The legislation, introduced by Rep Joseph R. Pitts (R-Pa) with 42 original cosponsors in late June, is budget-neutral and would provide a 2-year moratorium on this section of the DRA. The legislation will require Congress to properly study the detrimental impact of this change on patients and services.

Prior to implementation of the DRA, imaging services provided to Medicare beneficiaries were paid according to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS). The MPFS establishes separate payment codes and rates for each imaging service, taking into account factors that are specific to the settings of physician offices and freestanding facilities, such as capital infrastructure, overhead, staffing, and equipment maintenance.

However, under Section 5102 of the DRA, payments for imaging services would be linked to the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (HOPPS) rate. More specifically, the legislation requires Medicare to set the technical component of MPFS payments at the lesser of the MPFS or HOPPS rates. This change in payment policy would significantly cut reimbursement for imaging services delivered in physician offices and freestanding facilities—up to 75%, depending on the imaging service provided.

Your support of the Access to Medicare Imaging Act of 2006 will help stop this change in payment policy and allow time for the US Government Accountability Office to study the impact of these discrepancies.

The National Coalition for Quality Diagnostic Imaging Services (NCQDIS) is aggressively advocating on behalf of the imaging industry to fight this unfavorable DRA legislation. As executive director of NCQDIS, I ask for your help. Please write the representatives in any district that your company operates in and voice your support for the Access to Medicare Imaging Act of 2006.

I implore you to share with your representatives how the DRA will affect patients in your district. In fact, we know that the DRA will affect beneficiary access in a number of ways:

  • Medicare beneficiaries may be denied life-saving technologies as certain imaging providers are forced out of business and others have to scale back services that are poorly reimbursed;
  • beneficiaries may face higher costs for care if redirected to a hospital outpatient department for care;
  • beneficiaries may wait longer for medical care, which means increased health risks and more surgical procedures;
  • Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas may have to travel long distances for service;
  • beneficiaries will have diminished access to the latest quality imaging equipment;
  • private payors will follow Medicare’s lead, forcing providers to make business decisions that curtail services; and
  • the imaging cuts will hinder investments in new innovations and cutting-edge technologies.

Please visit to contact your representative as soon as possible. To join our effort, I invite you to visit

Cherrill Farnsworth is executive director of NCQDIS and the president and CEO of HealthHelp. She is also a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Axis Imaging News.