MedPAC: Medical Imaging Spending, Utilization Has Declined Within Medicare Program
The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) applauded the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) for confirming the recent downward trend in Medicare spending and utilization on medical imaging procedures. During its recent public meeting, MedPAC said imaging services declined by 2.5 percent in 2010, which is consistent with a MITA analysis of Medicare claims data commissioned this year.
"MITA is pleased that MedPAC has publicly validated that medical imaging spending and utilization are on the decline," said David Fisher, executive director of MITA. "We thank MedPAC for their careful review of the new data and their willingness to work with industry to develop a shared understanding of payment trends. MITA encourages policymakers to consider these latest trends and not target medical imaging services for additional cuts."
Recently, MITA released an analysis that found spending on imaging services for each Medicare beneficiary has dropped 13.2 percent since 2006, when significant imaging-specific reimbursement cuts from the Deficit Reduction Act began to be implemented, and imaging utilization per beneficiary declined by 3 percent in 2010. Contrary to the decline in imaging, spending for non-imaging Medicare services has grown by 20 percent since 2006 and non-imaging utilization increased 2 percent in 2010. The analysis also found that imaging is now a smaller portion of Medicare spending than it was at the turn of the century.
Congress and the administration have cut imaging reimbursements seven times in six years, with payments for some services being reduced by over 60 percent, including bone density screenings, arm and leg artery X-rays, and MRIs of the brain. These cuts hurt patient access and undercut the benefits of early detection, making it harder for doctors to access these life-saving technologies, MITA states.
MedPAC's conclusions on the MITA analysis are just the latest independent confirmation that Medicare imaging use and spending are down. In December, researchers at Thomas Jefferson Medical University found that from 2007 through 2009, there was significant curtailment of growth in CT and MRI, and the rate of nuclear medicine utilization actually decreased.