Radiology and Medicare Physician Payment Information Made Public

I confess to having a competitive streak. I was very glad however, when CMS released the data on what they paid individual physicians for 2012, that radiologists were not at the top of the league table. We were way down the list behind Internal Medicine, Ophthalmology and Cardiology. Not that I am not supportive of fair reimbursement for the high value services we provide; far from it, but I’m happy to let the spotlight shine elsewhere for a while. For too long radiologists have been accused of being part of the problem. Our recent success in getting clinical decision support enacted for advanced imaging as part of the SGR patch places us firmly in the value camp and it’s a good place to be.

We are looking more closely at the data however and have requested clarification from CMS on how they derived it. It will be important for our patients to understand the fact that our services are billed and paid for using the TC/PC construct which, depending on practice type, can significantly change the revenue a particular physician receives. Getting paid for doing an imaging service means that you have to pay for the resources needed to perform it: the $2 million MR unit, the highly trained technologist etc. As the ophthalmologists and oncologists who were interviewed yesterday pointed out, revenue does not equate to take home salary.

We’ll be keeping you posted in this story as it rolls out and as we dig into the data. For the moment, our focus remains firmly on the value that we know we deliver to our patients

Author – Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR

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