Medical Imaging Firms Urge Reversal of Medicare Cuts
Companies in the medical imaging equipment industry are lobbying Congress to overturn Medicare cuts that took effect in January, the AP/Arizona Daily Star reports.
The cuts reduced Medicare reimbursements to doctors for performing X-rays, MRIs and other tests. For example, reimbursements to doctors for MRI scans have decreased an average of 38% nationwide. The cuts are expected to save $2.8 billion over five years.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the Advanced Medical Technology Association as of 2006 employed 23 lobbyists to work on Medicare issues, arguing that the cuts will cause fewer physicians to offer in-office imaging. The groups argue that as a result, beneficiaries will have to travel farther and wait longer for medical scans.
Another group -- a new organization called the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition, which claims to represent more than 75,000 beneficiaries and health care professionals -- also is lobbying Congress to reverse the cuts.
The AP/Daily Star reports that "at least part of the motivations for [AMIC's] efforts is the impact that Medicare cuts are having on the industry's bottom line."
ales of scanners manufactured by General Electric, Siemens AG, Toshiba and others fell by more than 20% during the last quarter, according to data provided by an industry group.
However, "it appears there is little sympathy on Capitol Hill for the imaging industry, which had close to $25 billion in revenue last year," the AP/Daily Star reports.
No hearings currently are scheduled on the issue, and some health care experts are advising lawmakers that more medical technology does not necessarily lead to superior health care (Perrone, AP/Arizona Daily Star, 6/26).
In other Medicare news, the American Medical Association has launched a $2 million advertising campaign intended to push Congress to reverse a scheduled 10% cut in physician reimbursements, CQ HealthBeat reports (Phillips, CQ HealthBeat, 6/25).
AMA will air a television ad in Washington, D.C., and areas with large populations of seniors through the July 4 congressional recess. The ad states, "Unless Congress takes action, Medicare services will be cut by over $40 billion, forcing doctors to limit their services, even stopping them from accepting new Medicare patients."
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that reversing the cut would cost $21.7 billion over five years. Raising physician reimbursements by 1% would cost $23.9 billion over five years (Young, The Hill, 6/26).