by Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor | July 22, 2011
A bipartisan group of senators, including John Kerry (D-Mass.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), has asked President Obama to reject any further Medicare cuts
to medical imaging, saying they're bad for patients and American workers.
Instead, the group calls on Obama to promote clinical decision-support systems
in Medicare as an "alternative reform."
In a letter sent Wednesday, seven senators said a recent series of hits to imaging reimbursement have restricted patients' access to new technology, as doctors now hold onto old equipment longer. This in turn hits the pocketbooks of manufacturers, which invest less in research and development and put a freeze on creating new, high-paying jobs, the senators said.
Cuts fall especially hard on rural areas, the senators argued, as the closure of a local imaging facility could force patients to travel "hours away" to have access to imaging equipment.
There have been seven Medicare imaging cuts since 2006, with the cuts expected to extend through 2013, the senators said.
"We are concerned that reducing Medicare reimbursements will threaten access to vital tools used by physicians to guide appropriate medical, treatments," the senators wrote.
Many of the senators come from states with strong biotech industries, such as Massachusetts. Signatories include Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). Sen. Robert Casey (D-Penn.) sent a separate letter to the president.
The American College of Radiology said it and the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition, a lobby made of patient advocate and trade groups, worked to gather signatures for the letter.