Today, U.S. Congressmen Dave Reichert (R-WA), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Pete Olson (R-TX), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) introduced H.R. 1148: the Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act of 2013. The bipartisan legislation would allow for Medicare coverage of qualified radiology assistant (RA) services.
"RAs are highly trained and skilled professionals who have mastered complex technologies and understand how to best serve radiology patients in a safe and effective manner," said Reichert. "Making certain that their services are covered by Medicare is merely common-sense, and passage of this legislation would play an essential role in improving and increasing patient access to radiology services."
Rep. Olson said, "I'm pleased to join my colleagues in again introducing common sense legislation that will promote more efficient healthcare for America's seniors, save jobs, and enable the Medicare program to realize cost savings and fill the gap in doctor shortages through the use of Radiology Assistants. This measure would improve the quality of care and ensure timely access to diagnostic and interventional imaging procedures."
"As record numbers of seniors join the Medicare program, we need to ensure that radiology services are accessible," said Pascrell. "By allowing qualified and trained radiology assistants to perform these essential services along with supervising radiologists, this legislation safeguards that beneficiaries will receive nothing but the highest level of care."
Rep. Matheson said, "Ensuring that these highly trained medical professionals are adequately and fairly reimbursed under Medicare will help increase access to critical radiology services for Utahns. This is a common sense approach to alleviating the building pressures within Medicare through a growing beneficiary population and increased demand for radiology services. I am pleased to join with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on this bill once again."
The legislation is supported by over 40 key local and national groups including the American College of Radiology (ACR), the American Registry of Radiologist Technologists (ARRT), American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) and the Society of Radiology Physician Extenders (SRPE). One Enumclaw, WA radiologist has lauded the legislation as highly beneficial, allowing Medicare Patients "access to the same level of high-quality imaging services that other patients receive."
The Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act of 2013 would explicitly recognize RAs as a non-physician Medicare provider and allows Medicare coverage for their services. State law would continue to govern the scope of practice and supervision requirements for RAs, and supervising radiologists would continue to bill and receive payment for RA-performed services. The legislation would also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a review of the bill's effect on patient satisfaction and the clinical and operational effectiveness of using RAs, with a report due to Congress on the findings by January 1, 2018.