From: The Honorable David G. Reichert
Sent By: Colin.Swanson@mail.house.gov
We urge you to cosponsor H.R. 1148, the Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act, bipartisan legislation that addresses the shortage of physicians able to care for our growing Medicare population by increasing the use of qualified non-physician providers like radiologist assistants (RA’s).
In the mid-1990s, all stakeholders in the radiology community – radiologists, technologists, and certifying bodies – came together to address the increased demand for complex medical imaging services as well as the shortage of radiologists. They collaborated to develop a comprehensive, advanced education and training program for radiologist assistants (RAs) so that they could expertly and safely perform many assessments and procedures (excluding interpretations) that traditionally were performed by radiologists.
Twenty-nine states already license or otherwise recognize RAs, and many more states are working on licensure legislation. RAs always practice under the on-site supervision of a radiologist, but their ability to perform certain procedures allows the radiologist to devote more time to interpretations and more complex or urgent cases. This team approach improves the quality of care and ensures timely access to diagnostic and interventional imaging procedures.
Unfortunately, the Medicare program does not currently recognize the RA profession and imposes the same physician supervision requirements on RAs that it applies to technologists who have not satisfied the same rigorous education and training standards. This promotes inefficiencies in health care delivery and jeopardizes access to care for beneficiaries – particularly in rural areas – and ignores potential cost savings. As a direct result of the current policy, RAs are losing their jobs, and university RA training programs are on the verge of suspending or terminating their programs.
Our common sense legislation will amend the Medicare statute to recognize the RA as a non-physician provider under Medicare. Under the bill, state law would govern scope of practice and physician supervision levels for procedures performed by RAs. Only radiologists would bill the Medicare program for RA services, but the services performed by an RA would be reimbursed at a lower rate than that of radiologists. This would enable Medicare to realize savings and should ensure that there is no adverse impact on the federal budget.
This legislation is supported by over 40 national, state, and local organizations including the American College of Radiology (ACR), American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), and the American Society of Radiology Technologists (ASRT). If you would like more information about the bill or would like to cosponsor, please contact Colin Swanson in Rep. Reichert’s office at 5-7761 or Sarah Whiting in Rep. Olson’s office at 5-5951 or Joel Bailey in Rep. Matheson’s office at 5-3011 or Kristen Molloy in Rep. Pascrell’s office at 5-5751.
Rep. Dave Reichert Rep. Pete Olson
Rep. Jim Matheson Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.