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Radiologists Push Back on Reimbursement Cuts

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 12, 2013

"Sometimes that will be less imaging but sometimes it will be more imaging," she says. "More often it will be doing the right imaging first, as opposed to doing a test and realizing it didn't get you what you wanted, whereas if you had had the support of a radiologist and the appropriateness criteria that we developed with the ACR, you would have done the right test first."

Even with the reduced reimbursements, McGinty says physicians will continue to offer their interpretations of imaging because they put their patients' health first and foremost.

"We are doctors. I would find it hard to believe that somebody would not do an additional study because of these cuts," she says. "But again there are a lot of stresses on outpatient practices and people are trying their best to provide high quality care and invest in new technology and give jobs to their staff and balance all those things."

It is not clear what costs savings will be generated by these latest reimbursement cuts, but McGinty says this is part of larger and troubling trend to target imaging services.

"It's important to understand that radiology has been subjected to something like 12 cuts since 2006. This is just one additional cut on top of many cuts, so practices are really hurting," she says. "We are looking for incentives to provide higher quality care but there have been a lot of sticks and very few carrots for radiology."


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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2 comments on "Radiologists Push Back on Reimbursement Cuts"


Mtb Walt (7/5/2013 at 8:52 PM)
Tibro Lushi, You say that the problem is that we pay for service in America. What else should we pay for? You do a job and you get paid for it. Your comment also indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of how imaging is reimbursed, as well as the many difficulties being faced by socialist health care systems... not least of which is quality of care. The radiologist is paid to provide the professional interpretation component of the exam. The owner of the machine (such as a hospital) is paid for providing the machine and taking the pictures. Radiologists have been cut 8 times in the last 6 years. This random 25% cut whose justification is refuted by scientific research has just been rammed through by Kathleen Sebelius, of the Obama administration that you so love. As a result, we have large numbers of lesser qualified foreign graduates flooding into radiology as the highly qualified American graduates avoid this foundering but essential field of medicine. Doctors fees make up about 15% of every medical dollar. So if you cut doctors 20% which will certainly result in a significant degradation quality doctors, you have cut only 3% from the medical dollar. That is equivalent to inflation for 1 year.

Tibro lushi (4/12/2013 at 11:47 AM)
The biggest problem in American healthcare is that payment is made per service. For example, the radiologist first gets paid to do the test and then gets paid to do the interpretation of the test. This happens separatedly for every test. Thankfully, Obamacare is moving us towards a more sane way to pay[INVALID]by diagnosis. If the patient has cancer, pay one amount to take care of that cancer, no matter how many tests and interpretations are needed. Europe moved to that long ago. Healthcare there is around 13% of GDP while the US is reaching 20%[INVALID]utterly unsustainable.