Federal Legislative Issues
Federal MARCA Bill Introduced
The Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act of 2017 was introduced on March 29 by Senator John Boozman (R-AR) as S. 769 and on April 5 by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) as H.R. 1904. These bills will enact a law that amends Medicare reimbursement policy and supervision levels for radiologist assistants to align them with state radiologist assistant laws.
Adoption of new language contained in H.R. 1904 or S. 769 will enable radiologist assistants to work under less stringent supervision levels and be more efficient health care providers. Passage of the bill will allow radiologists to devote more focused time reviewing and interpreting complex medical images or urgent cases, thus increasing access to care.
Radiologist assistants have advanced education and clinical experience, and can expertly and safely perform radiologic assessments and certain procedures that traditionally are performed only by radiologists.
Without Medicare's recognition of radiologist assistants, the profession is in peril. As a direct result of Medicare's current policy, radiologist assistants are losing their jobs and universities are on the verge of suspending or terminating their educational programs.
All radiologic technologists can help by contacting their senators and asking them to cosponsor S. 769 and their congressman asking him or her to cosponsor H.R. 1904. This is easy to do by using ASRT's Advocacy Action Center to learn more about the bills and send a message.
You can find more information, monitor activities and follow up with your federal lawmakers on the MARCA bills in the ASRT Advocacy Action Center.
Michael Latimer, M.S.R.S., R.T.(R)
Proposed CMS Reimbursement Cuts for Non-digital Radiography
Request for action from ASRT president Michael Latimer, M.S.R.S, R.T.(R)
The recent decision by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to slash Medicare film-based x-ray payments by 20 percent will have unintended consequences on patient care. CMS omitted language in its proposed payment-reduction rule that would require registered radiologic technologists to perform all radiography procedures billed within the Medicare system. By leaving out a measure requiring registered radiologic technologists to perform procedures, CMS is conceding that uneducated, unqualified and unprepared personnel could perform radiologic technology duties.
Submit your comments to ask CMS to include language in the proposal that would require that only registered radiologic technologists perform radiography procedures billed within the Medicare system. There are two proposed rules: the physician fee schedule and hospital outpatient prospective payment system. Please submit your comments for both proposals.
Access the ASRT advocacy action center for comments you can customize and submit to CMS.
The public comment period is open until Sept. 6, 2016.
Thank you for taking the time to support your profession. By submitting comments to CMS, you’re taking an important step in making sure the federal government knows that only registered radiologic technologists who have the education, skills and experience necessary to ensure safe and accurate exams should perform medical imaging procedures.
Michael Latimer, M.S.R.S, R.T.(R)
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – NATIONAL: May 2016
H.R. 4614 - MARCA
U.S. Reps. Pete Olson (R-TX), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) introduced H.R. 4614, the Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act of 2016 on February 25, 2016. This bipartisan legislation would allow for Medicare coverage of qualified radiology assistant (RA) services.
"I'm pleased to join my colleagues in reintroducing this common sense legislation to promote more efficient healthcare for America's seniors, save jobs, and enable the Medicare program to realize cost saving," Rep. Pete Olson said. This bill also fills critical gaps in doctor shortages through the use of Radiology Assistants. This measure would improve the quality of care and ensure timely access to diagnostic and interventional imaging procedures."
"Radiology Assistants play an important role in American health care today," Congressman Doyle observed. "Our bill simply recognizes that fact by allowing Medicare coverage for their services. This bipartisan bill would improve patient access to care and ensure that radiologists and radiology assistants, working together, can maximize their training to provide high-quality, cost-effective medical imaging for Medicare beneficiaries."
"Radiologist Assistants are highly trained and skilled professionals who have mastered complex technologies and understand how to best serve their patients in a safe and effective manner," said Rep. Dave Reichert. "With the growing issue of doctor shortages, making certain that their services are covered by Medicare is merely common-sense, and passage of this legislation would play an essential role in improving and increasing seniors' access to critical radiology services."
"Bolstering the U.S.'s health care workforce has long been a priority of mine, which is why I am proud to reintroduce this bill," Rep. Bill Pascrell said. "The Rutgers School of Health Related Professions in New Jersey has one of the few radiologist assistant programs in the country, producing highly qualified health professionals every year. Ensuring that Medicare pays radiologist assistants for the services they provide solidifies their role as an integral part of the radiology team."
The Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act of 2016 would explicitly recognize radiology assistants (RAs) as a non-physician Medicare provider and allows Medicare coverage for their services. State law would continue to govern the scope of practice and supervision requirements for RAs, and supervising radiologists would continue to bill and receive payment for RA-performed services.
SENATE COMPANION BILL TO H.R. 4614 - MARCA
The Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act of 2016 was introduced on Feb. 25 by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) as H.R. 4614 and a Senate companion bill will soon be introduced by Sen. John Boozman (R-AR). These bills ask Congress to enact a law that would amend Medicare reimbursement policy and supervision levels to match state laws for the radiologist assistant profession.
Passage of these bills would allow radiologists to devote more focused time reviewing and interpreting complex medical images or urgent cases, thus increasing access to care.
Radiologist assistants have advanced education and training and can expertly and safely perform radiologic assessments and certain procedures that traditionally were performed only by radiologists.
Without Medicare’s recognition of radiologist assistants, the profession is in peril. As a direct result of Medicare’s current policy radiologist assistants are losing their jobs and universities are on the verge of suspending or terminating their training programs.
Here's how you can help:
Talking points include:
You will find more detailed talking points and who to ask for if you call your congressman’s office on the ASRT Advocacy Action Center.