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Physician Self-Referrals for Imaging Cost Medicare $109M in 2010

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 7, 2012

The report got little notice in the media when it was released in the week before the election. However, House and Senate leaders from both parties said in a joint media release that self-referral abuses have to be addressed.

"The results of this report are eye opening," said Sen. Max Baucus, (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. "Self-referrals offer an incentive for providers to order more tests than they would otherwise.  It's clear they are driving up costs.  Providers' bottom lines shouldn't be getting in the way of their patients' care and best interests."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-IA), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, added that "Medicare payment policy shouldn't incentivize unnecessary tests that drive up costs and even jeopardize the well-being of patients."

"The challenge is to develop a payment system that safeguards beneficiary access to services while preventing self-referrals by physicians who abuse the system," Grassley said.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-CA, ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, said the report "should serve as a wakeup call to Congress that this is an arena where we can't afford to sit idly by and allow providers to continue these practices."

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