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Coalition Descends on DC with Message to Congress: 'Raise the Bar' on Diagnostic Imaging Quality

Coalition Descends on DC with Message to Congress: 'Raise the Bar' on Diagnostic Imaging Quality

WASHINGTON, March 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Our purpose is to convince Congress that both savings and quality are achievable in diagnostic imaging," said Robert Baumgartner, President of the National Coalition for Quality Diagnostic Imaging (NCQDIS) of the organization's March 13 "fly-in" to Washington D.C. "We have to raise the bar on quality; Medicare beneficiaries deserve it."

NCQDIS members have been working with Congress, the Administration (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services "CMS") and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) promoting a level playing field in diagnostic imaging quality standards. "Today you have a situation where diagnostic imaging quality standards are lower for some Medicare providers than they are for others," said Wayne Blank, Co-Chairman of NCQDIS' Public Policy Committee. "We believe that all Medicare beneficiaries deserve assurance of the same high standard of care -- no exceptions."

The coalition, as well as other advocates for healthcare quality, maintain that consistent standards for diagnostic imaging will in fact save taxpayer money, curb inappropriate utilization of imaging, and ensure that patients receive the proper clinical diagnosis earlier in the treatment process. Appropriate quality standards, which have a proven track record of success in the private healthcare market, could be similarly utilized by CMS.

Via the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Congress made massive cuts (nearly $3 billion over five years) to diagnostic imaging with no provisions for quality. "The unfortunate reality is that Congress could have achieved meaningful savings in diagnostic imaging and also made great strides to assure quality," said Baumgartner. "We were very disappointed in the outcome of the DRA because it goes against the compelling, innovative private sector experience that proves daily that savings and quality can and should be mutually inclusive." Well before the enactment of the DRA, NCQDIS had been advocating for the use of quality standards as a means of addressing concerns of over utilization in the diagnostic imaging industry.

In addition to its education campaign and advocacy for quality, NCQDIS will continue to work with Congress to repair the damage done by the DRA. Many experts fear that these massive cuts to diagnostic imaging, as high as 30% in some cases, will adversely impact Medicare beneficiaries' access to vital services as independent diagnostic testing facilities (IDTFs) reduce services or close their doors altogether.

Even tests not directly cut by the DRA may be significantly impacted going forward. For example, many IDTFs offer mammography today as a public service, because reimbursements fail to cover the true costs of offering the test. With IDTFs taking such a massive hit in the DRA offering such services may become too cost prohibitive going forward.

Access to diagnostic imaging in rural areas, disincentives to upgrade and maintain equipment, and wait times for patients represent some of the other negative realities of the DRA.

"We come to Washington with more than criticism; we bring with us constructive solutions that will consistently assure the quality and cost- effectiveness of diagnostic imaging services available to our nation's Medicare recipients," said Baumgartner.

The National Coalition for Quality Diagnostic Imaging Services represents diagnostic imaging centers and departments across the nation in addressing quality and regulatory issues. NCQDIS and its members advocate for public and private sector standards for quality and safety in the diagnostic imaging industry.

National Coalition for Quality Diagnostic Imaging Services

CONTACT: Maggie Sayre, +1-202-460-3647, [email protected] for
National Coalition for Quality Diagnostic Imaging Services

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