‘Unconscionable’: Nearly 80 medical societies endorse new Senate bill to address radiology Medicare cuts

Almost 80 medical societies are endorsing a recently released Senate bill aimed at addressing Medicare cuts to radiology and other physician specialties, set to take effect on Jan. 1.

Organizations including the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging voiced their support for S. 5007 in a letter written to five Republican senators on Monday. The recipients last week introduced a bill to grant radiologists and other physicians add-on payments to offset reimbursement reductions slated for 2021.

The societies applauded the measure for maintaining payment increases t0 primary care and others who bill for evaluation and management services but avoiding corresponding cuts to others because of Medicare’s budget neutrality requirements.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic rages and wreaks havoc on the healthcare system, providers continue to contend with overflowing hospitals and the financial impact of the spring-summer, government-recommended shutdown of most nonurgent medical care,” the groups wrote Dec. 14. “Against this backdrop, double-digit Medicare cuts will be devastating for patients, communities and providers.”

Sens. John Boozman, R-Arkansas; Kevin Cramer, R-North Dakota; Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi; Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas; and Susan Collins, R-Maine, first introduced the measure on Dec. 10. In an update to members Tuesday, SNMMI noted that S. 5007 is “virtually identical” to the Holding Providers Harmless from Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020, previously introduced in the lower chamber. As of Friday, the companion bills had 278 supporters in the House and 51 more in the Senate, according to the American College of Radiology.

“If our heroes this year are people who wear scrubs, then it is unconscionable to hit them with Medicare cuts as a New Year’s gift,” Sen. Hyde-Smith said in a Dec. 11 statement. “This legislation needs to be passed before the holidays to provide relief to the very healthcare professionals who bear the burden of fighting this pandemic.”

Others signing the letter to legislators included the ACR, the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, the Radiology Business Management Association, the American Society of Neuroradiology, the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, the Society of Interventional Radiology, and the American Society for Radiation Oncology.