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Data: Actual imaging use far below president's recommended 95 percent utilization rate for Medicare
Date:6/19/2009

3. The survey merely provided a snapshot of equipment use in 2005 among 80 providers.

MedPAC itself even cautioned against using its survey to determine equipment use rates. According to transcripts of an April 19, 2006 meeting, MedPAC said: "This survey is a first stepIt was not nationally representative and it was not designed to determine equipment use rates. Its intent was to assess the feasibility of getting use rate data from the survey." CMS also agreed that that MedPAC's survey was unsound. In its 2007 proposed physician rule, CMS did not alter the equipment utilization assumption, stating: "We do not believe we have sufficient empirical evidence to justify an alternative proposal [to the 50 percent utilization assumption.]"

According to a recent analysis conducted by The Moran Company, Medicare spending on advanced imaging specifically CT, MR, Nuclear Medicine and PET was reduced by 19.2 percent from 2006 to 2007 and volume of these services grew by a modest 1.9 percent, after imaging reimbursements were cut by the DRA. In fact, the survey shows that the rate of imaging volume growth has been declining since 2005. The slow 1.9 percent growth rate for advanced imaging is less than the overall growth rate for Medicare physician payments in general. For all imaging services, spending has decreased by 13.3 percent from 2006 to 2007. Additionally, the Moran analysis shows Medicare reimbursements for dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), a key bone-mineral density screening test used to diagnose and monitor osteoporosis, fell by 40 percent from 2006 to 2007. The survey shows that reimbursement in 2007 fell to its lowest level since 2000. As deep Medicare spending cuts went into affect in 2006 and 2007, after the implementation of the DRA, the volume of DXA screenings declined by .2 percent. This marked the first time since Medicare began reimbursing physicians for DXA screenings that the volume of screening declined.


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Contact: Sarah Mills
smills@powelltate.com
202-585-2084
Powell Tate
Source:Eurekalert

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