A Roller Coaster Week

It’s been a roller coaster week for our government relations team as the Sustainable Growth Rate reform bill has hung in the balance and with it our game changing proposal to implement collaborative educational decision support for our referring provider colleagues when they order advanced imaging. As we bite our nails and hope that the Congress can get at least a temporary patch implemented (again) with our clinical decision support program included I have to recognize the dedicated team that is our interface with the legislative branch. These folks know everyone there is to know on The Hill and they could not be more passionate about advocating on our behalf for the value that we deliver to our patients. We are lucky to have them on our team.

One of the provisions in the current version of the legislation about which we are extremely concerned gives the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) much broader authority to set payments and values for the services we provide. The RUC, an independent AMA committee on which I sit as the ACR’s representative and which currently derives the valuations recommendations that are sent to Medicare, seems to be threatened with irrelevance by this provision. Now the RUC is not perfect, but it still represents the best efforts of expert physicians from all the major specialties and its recommendations are developed from survey data for physicians who actually perform the services being provided. I don’t know that having the secretary and HHS decide on valuations could possibly have the same credibility.

The news changes daily, but here’s hoping that good sense wins out because what radiologists are bringing to the health care reform table is exactly what the doctor ordered and I am really proud of our specialty’s leadership and vision.

Author – Geraldine B. McGinty, M.D., MBA, FACR

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