Thousands of radiologists urging Congress to kill policy that could cost field nearly $6B

The American College of Radiology said Thursday, Oct. 17, that thousands of imaging professionals have reached out to members of the U.S. House this month. They’re attempting to quash a payment policy change that industry watchers said could cost radiologists $450 million in one year alone, and $5.6 billion over the next decade.

Concerns stem from a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposal to boost reimbursement for care-related Evaluation and Management (E/M) by about $5 billion. Those are spelled out in the proposed physician payment schedule for 2020 from CMS and are aimed at reducing administrative burdens, federal officials said.

However, an analysis commissioned by the College found that increasing the valuation for E/M services in a budget-neutral world would mean cuts to reimbursement for radiologists and other providers who typically do not use such codes.

“The ACR remains deeply concerned about the sizable cuts this proposal will impose upon radiology and other medical providers that do not frequently bill E/M services. Without congressional action, they will result in an unprecedented payment redistribution within the fee schedule,” the College said in a news bulletin released Thursday.

Radiology lobbyists are pushing Congress to intervene to minimize the damage and possibly suspend budget neutrality considerations to “ensure a more equitable policy solution that penalizes no physician specialty.” Since the ACR first urged its members to take action on the Hill at the start of October, radiologists have sent about 4,500 emails and made 450-plus phone calls to lawmakers, the college said.