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MedPAC Urged to Reconsider Imaging Reimbursement Cuts

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 17, 2011

A coalition of medical imaging organizations and patients' advocacy groups asked the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission this week to reconsider its call for reduced reimbursements and required prior authorization for imaging services.

In a letter to MedPAC Chairman Glenn Hackbarth, the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition said the commission's recommendations "would further limit access to life-saving diagnostic imaging services while yielding questionable savings for the Medicare program."

The coalition, which includes dozens of medical imaging groups and professional medical associations, including the American College of Radiology, told Hackbarth it was particularly concerned about MedPAC's call for prior authorization for imaging services.

"Prior authorization has never been used in the Medicare program, impedes patient access to needed care, places huge administrative burdens on providers, and has not been shown to reduce costs over the long term," AMIC said in the letter.

"From the perspective of patient advocates prior authorization would mean placing a barrier between patients and services their physician believes are necessary, which could lead to delayed or denied care. From the provider perspective, prior authorization means having to devote additional uncompensated physician time as well as staff to a burdensome administrative process," AMIC said in the letter.

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