News | July 02, 2009

New Legislation to Close Stark Law In-Office Imaging Loophole

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) recently introduced HR 2962, the Integrity in Medicare Advanced Diagnostic Imaging Act of 2009.

July 2, 2009 - Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) recently introduced HR 2962, the Integrity in Medicare Advanced Diagnostic Imaging Act of 2009, a bill designed to amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to exclude certain advanced diagnostic imaging services from the in-office ancillary services exception to the “Stark laws” prohibition on physician self-referral.

Congresswoman Speier was a champion of this issue while serving in the California state legislature and hopes to share her passion for this issue with her fellow lawmakers by introducing this legislation at the federal level.

“The College appreciates Rep. Speier’s effort to end the longstanding issue of physician self-referral in imaging. We thank the Congresswoman for her courage in confronting the issue and look forward to working with her to advance this issue,” said James H. Thrall, M.D., FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors.

Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports as well as peer-reviewed studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and elsewhere have shown that when physicians refer patients to facilities in which they have a financial interest, imaging utilization is significantly increased. Private insurance studies from CIGNA and Blue Cross-Blue Shield indicate that as much as half of self-referred imaging is unnecessary.

HR 2962 currently has no cosponsors and has been referred jointly to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

“The ACR continues to work with allied organizations, members of Congress and congressional staff to advance the policy of sensible imaging reimbursement policies based on medical evidence, not arbitrary cost cutting,” said ACR Chair Thrall. “ACR looks forward to working with Congresswoman Speier to incorporate the discussion of imaging self-referral into the ongoing health care debate,” added Thrall.

For more information: www.acr.org and www.qualityimaging.org/analysis/TheEffectsofImagingGuidelines.pdf

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