The five-year, $39 billion budget-cutting bill, which is scheduled to be signed into law Feb. 8 by President George W. Bush, calls for payment caps on imaging and computer-assisted imaging services. "The bill limits reimbursement for the technical (as opposed to the professional or interpretation) component to what would be paid under the hospital outpatient prospective payment system (HOPPS) or Medicare fee schedule payment (MFSP), whichever is less," explained Gary L. Dillehay, M.D., chair of SNM's Coding and Reimbursement Committee. The caps apply to molecular and nuclear imaging (including positron emission tomography), X-rays, ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography and fluoroscopy, said the associate professor of radiology at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.
In addition, the act eliminates the 4.4 percent reduction in claims payments for physicians' services, freezing the payment at 2005 rates. Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services indicate that the freeze will be applied retroactively to services paid between Jan. 1 and the date of the bill's enactment.
"All Americans understand the need to be fiscally responsible; however, this bill's imaging provisions affect the care of patients," said SNM President Peter S. Conti, M.D., Ph.D., professor of radiology, clinical pharmacy and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. "Patients deserve convenient access to needed molecular and nuclear imaging services, and in the future they may find fewer imaging offices available as independent establishments close due to financial challenges," added Conti, who as SNM president represents more than 16,000 physician, technologist and scientist members. "SNM is currently working with
Contact: Maryann Verrillo
Society of Nuclear Medicine