Federal Legislative Issues
The ARRT is trying to pass a bill in the U.S. Congress that would address current barriers to Medicare reimbursement for radiologist assistants. The bill is the Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act, orMARCA. This letter is to urge all R.T.'s to contact their representatives and ask for their support. Below is a document for a brief remark by you, to be sent on to your Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.
If you don't know your representative, follow the instructions below. Your letter is addressed to your Representative, but the email should be sent to their legislative aide for health issues.
The Honorable [FIRST NAME LAST NAME]
Dear Representative [LAST NAME]:
I am a Registered Technologist (R.T.) working in [CITY, STATE] and I [ELABORATE ON YOUR PRACTICE AND/OR YOUR TIME IN THE COMMUNITY]. I am writing in support of H.R. 1148, the Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act, or MARCA. This bipartisan bill will address Medicare's lack of recognition of the Radiologist Assistant (RA) profession and the patient access problems caused by that failure. I want you to know that I wholeheartedly endorse this legislation and encourage you to cosponsor this bill.
The RA profession was created in the mid-1990's in response to an increased demand and need for complex medical imaging services and a shortage of radiologists. All stakeholders in the radiology community - radiologists, technologists, and certifying bodies - collaborated to develop a comprehensive, advanced education and training program for technologists so that they could perform radiologic assessments and procedures (excluding interpretations) that traditionally were performed by radiologists. Twenty-nine states license or otherwise recognize RAs. The RA level is the next step for R.T.s who are interested in pursuing additional education and training in order to expand the scope of services they can provide to patients in need of medical imaging.
RAs always practice under the on-site supervision of a radiologist. They make radiology practices more efficient. They free up the radiologist to spend more time on interpretations and consultations, which enhances patient safety and improves outcomes. RAs spend more time with the patient, empowering the patient to become better informed about his or her procedure. They can reduce wait times and increase patient satisfaction
Unfortunately, Medicare has not kept pace with this important development in the field of radiology; the law has not been amended to specifically recognize RAs as Medicare providers. This failure means that RAs are not permitted to provide to Medicare beneficiaries the services they are trained and allowed to perform under state law. By not allowing radiology practices and departments to make effective use of RAs, Medicare is promoting inefficiency in health care delivery, jeopardizing timely access to diagnostic and interventional procedures for Medicare beneficiaries (particularly in rural areas), and ignoring potential cost savings. RAs are losing their jobs, and university RA training programs are on the verge of suspending or terminating their programs. R.T.s who were considering additional education and training to become an RA are witnessing the swift depletion of RA jobs due to the lack of Medicare recognition of the RA profession. This situation eliminates professional growth opportunities for RTs and sends radiology back to a pre-1990's state where there is an insufficient number of mid-level professionals available to assist radiologists in providing high quality medical imaging services.
H.R. 1148 would correct this problem. It would amend the Medicare statute to explicitly recognize RAs. State law would dictate scope of practice and supervision requirements. Services performed by an RA would be billed by the radiologist but would be reimbursed at a lower rate (85% of the physician rate). This would enable Medicare to realize savings and should ensure that there is no adverse impact on the federal budget.
This legislation has no opposition and is supported by all stakeholders in the medical imaging community, including radiologists. It preserves medical education programs, jobs, and patient access to medical imaging services. And it will not increase the federal deficit. I hope I can count on you to cosponsor H.R. 1148. Thank you for your consideration.
[NAME & TITLE]