Last week, the House and Senate voted to raise the debt ceiling until March 2015 avoiding another round of political brinksmanship and taking a big political issue off the table as Congress faces mid-term elections later this year.
What many may not realize is that the debt ceiling agreement came very close to derailing passage of legislation to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate. Originally, the House of Representatives’ debt ceiling bill included a nine-month SGR patch extending the current SGR program and formula until the end of the year. Had this version of the debt ceiling agreement passed, the chances of enacting comprehensive SGR reform legislation in 2014 would have been doomed. Understanding that significant imaging provisions supported by the American College of Radiology (ACR) would be at risk if a nine-month patch were attached, the ACR and numerous other stakeholders, vigorously protested the inclusion of the patch. Thankfully, congressional leadership quickly capitulated, allowing efforts to pass SGR reform by March 31 to continue.
This behind-the-scenes glimpse offers us another example of why it is so important that radiologists maintain a strong presence on Capitol Hill and why it is equally important for radiologists to support these efforts.
Author – Howard B. Fleishon, M.D., MMM, FACR