Senator Susan Collins joins fight against ‘devastating’ CMS pay cuts to radiology

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has joined the fight to avert what she calls “devastating” Medicare pay cuts to radiologists and other physician specialties in 2021.

The long-tenured lawmaker voiced her support for the physician community in a letter to Mitch McConnell and other Senate leaders, written Friday, Oct. 9. Collins—who is in a fierce battle for reelection—labeled payment changes in next year’s Physician Fee Schedule “ill timed” and “harmful.”

“While I understand the importance of adhering to existing budget neutrality requirements under normal circumstances, now is not the time to move forward with such significant changes that threaten patient access to medically necessary services,” Collins wrote. “The reimbursement cuts primarily fall on the backs of providers across nonprimary care specialties—from radiology to physical therapy or orthopedic surgery,” she added.

Industry groups such as the American College of Radiology, American Society of Neuroradiology, Society of Interventional Radiology, and Radiology Business Management Association have fought against the reductions in recent months. Two lawmakers in the House introduced bipartisan legislation to waive budget neutrality for one year while preserving pay increases for primary care and other providers who bill for evaluation and management services.

Collins “strongly” requested that her colleagues consider such action in the Senate. ACR and its coalition representing nearly 1.4 million physicians and other practitioners praised the House bill in an Oct. 9 letter to its sponsors.