ACR asks CMS to back off on letting nonradiologists perform medical imaging tests

The American College of Radiology is expressing “concerns” about the possibility of letting nonphysicians interpret medical imaging tests without supervision as a means to boost access in the Medicare program.

Those reservations come in response to a presidential executive order in October, calling for the need to expand scope of practice to improve senior care. In a Jan. 15 letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the ACR acknowledged the important role of APRNs and PAs, but asked for caution in making any federal changes to how care is delivered.

“The ACR recognizes that APRNs, PAs and other nonphysician providers play a vital role in providing care to patients,” wrote CEO William Thorwarth, MD. “However, these NPPs are not interchangeable with radiologists or other physicians,” he added, noting that doctors must log upward of 16,000 hours of clinical education, versus just 720 for APRNs.

To keep patients safe, he added, the ACR said the federal government should maintain the requirement that nonphysician providers practice under the direct supervision of doctors.

ACR also previously submitted comments expressing concerns about expanding scope of practice, according to a Jan. 16 news post.

The October presidential order tasked the secretary of Health and Human Services with identifying and removing any unnecessary barriers that might be preventing the care of their choice, according to the post.

“The proposed Medicare for All Act of 2019, as introduced in the Senate would destroy our current Medicare program, which enables our nation's seniors and other vulnerable Americans to receive affordable, high-quality care from providers of their choice. Rather than upend Medicare as we know it, my administration will protect and improve it,” President Donald Trump wrote last year.