10 lawmakers ask Congress to spare imaging

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | October 31, 2011
Rep. Jim Gerlach
Ten lawmakers have asked Congress to spare diagnostic imaging from further Medicare cuts, as politicians in Washington brace for prolonged budget battles this fall.

In the letter, sent Oct. 26, the representatives warn House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that further cuts to imaging could cut off seniors' access to needed medical tests, while endangering jobs as device makers take a hit when doctors, struggling with low reimbursement rates, put off buying their equipment.

"[P]revious imaging cuts have caused physicians to hold onto their outdated equipment for longer periods of time," write the lawmakers, including Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Gene Green (D-Texas). "With this decreased demand for their technology, manufacturers are forced to reduce employment and cut back investment in research and development. In these tough economic times, we should provide support to these innovators and avoid policies that will restrain their ability to create jobs and compete in our global economy."
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Imaging has had seven cuts in the past half decade, the representatives noted. It's often an attractive target for cuts by Medicare administrators and politicians, as America deals with its increasingly costly entitlement programs. Last year, Medicare spending is thought to have been half a trillion dollars, and is expected to grow an average of 6.3 percent from 2013 and 2020, as more baby boomers join the Medicare rolls.

Of the signatories to the letter, at least one, Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), also co-sponsored a recent bill that would block a Medicare imaging cut scheduled to take effect in next year's physician fee schedule.

Other signatories include Joseph R. Pitts (R-Pa.), Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), David G. Reichert (R-Wash.), Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), Charles W. Dent (R-Pa.), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) and Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio).

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