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‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Includes Medical Imaging Cuts

‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Includes Medical Imaging Cuts

Legislation passed to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” cuts reimbursement to certain medical imaging services and retains the medical device excise tax — elements industry advocates said would hinder patient access and threaten jobs.

"When you add up all the Medicare cuts and Congress' reluctance to address the $30 billion medical device tax, this legislation produces a devastating impact that harms patient access to care, moves manufacturing jobs overseas and threatens America's leadership in medical research and development," Gail Rodriguez, executive director of the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance, said in a statement.

Congress passed the legislation this week to avert drastic automatic spending cuts and tax hikes.

The measure reduces physician office Medicare payments for advanced imaging services by $800 million and hospital payments for radiation therapy by $300 million over 10 years, according to MITA. The legislation also retains the 2.3 percent medical device tax.

The Access to Medical Imaging Coalition said the cuts represent another “imaging-targeted provision” compounding pervious reductions for imaging services in recent years. The cuts come as imgaging use has declined, AMIC said. A recent MITA report found utilization per Medicare beneficiary has declined by 5.12 percent since 2009 and spending on imaging services has dropped 16.7 percent since 2006.

“Unfortunately rather than basing payment decisions on up-to-date data, which show imaging use on the decline, Congress is blindly slashing Medicare payments for diagnostics without true knowledge about how their previous cuts affect seniors’ access to early diagnosis services,” Tim Trysla, AMIC’s executive director, said in a statement. “We know that cuts which already have gone into effect have forced physician practices and providers to scale back on clinical staff and forgo technology upgrades.”

The legislation did include a provision to stop the scheduled 27 percent cut in Medicare physician payments. The so-called “doc fix” staves off Sustainable Growth Rate mandated cuts for one year.

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