Dear ASRT Member:
ASRT reaches out to lawmakers when measures are introduced that may affect the economic success of radiologic technologists and radiation therapists. Now is one of those times.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is putting into effect new Medicare reimbursement rates in 2021 that carry significant cuts for radiology services and radiation therapy services. This change could result in an overall 11 percent decrease in payment levels for radiology, as well as decreases by specialty, including, a nine percent cut for interventional radiology; an eight percent cut for nuclear medicine; a six prevent cut for radiation oncology; and a six percent cut for radiation therapy. These reimbursement cuts are catastrophic figures for the medical imaging and radiation therapy professions.
These cuts, coupled with the fact that COVID-19 has had extremely adverse effects on the medical imaging and radiation therapy community, will wreak havoc. Reports state that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a 20 percent decline in the market for medical imaging equipment. Even worse news is on the horizon for the medical imaging and radiation therapy technical professional community if the final rule, with the aforementioned cuts included, takes effect in 2021. According to one study, more than 50 percent of radiology practices plan to terminate or furlough existing employees if the rule’s cuts go into effect without any relief, while 82 percent said they expect the cuts will result in decreased imaging access for patients. And much like every other industry facing COVID-19, there is no telling if, or when, these jobs will come back. Patient access and care would further be hindered as medical imaging centers could close or reduce hours, while many would restrict services to Medicare beneficiaries treated in an outpatient setting.
While the Federal Government continues to search for a comprehensive response to COVID-19, Congress can immediately alleviate these Medicare reimbursement cuts by enacting H.R. 8702. If Congress fails to act, radiology, radiation therapy and medical imaging communities will be impacted in a severe and real way. That is why H.R. 8702 is so important to ASRT, and its members. By creating a two-year “hold harmless” payment that essentially would keep the reimbursement rates for Medicare services at the 2020 amount, H.R. 8702 allows the medical imaging and radiation therapy community to review the losses that COVID-19 has caused, and regroup after the full extent of the pandemic is analyzed.
ASRT asks that all radiologic technologists and radiation therapists contact your federal representatives using the ASRT Advocacy Action Center as soon as possible to voice support for this important legislation that will help radiologic technologists and radiation therapists continue to care for our country’s most vulnerable patients.
The American Society of Radiologic Technologists