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SNM applauds temporary freeze on Medicare cuts

RESTON, Va.On April 16, the President signed a bill granting temporary relief from looming cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates. Although a positive step, the medical communityalong with millions of patientscontinues to face significant threats to medical coverage for critical diagnostic imaging tests and therapeutics.

"This is good news, and we are encouraged that the President has signed a bill to delay reimbursement cuts to medical imaging," said Michael M. Graham, Ph.D., M.D., president of SNM. "This extension may have bought us a little more time, but we are still in great need of a long-term solution that does not block access to medical services for Medicare patients."

Graham added that the danger to the medical community is "very real" and advises that a long-term fix is needed to solve this persistent threat. "We urge Congress to take action now to stop this waiting game and ensure access to the tests patients need."

"Medical imaging has come under greater threat than any other medical service," said Robert W. Atcher, Ph.D., M.B.A., chair of SNM's Government Relations Committee. "Nuclear medicine has seen greater cuts than other imaging modalities and is poised on the brink of disaster. It is a disservice to our profession and the patients we serve not to reimburse these tests at adequate levels."

This recent short-term fix delays cuts to medical imaging through June 1, by which time Congress will have to take further action to ensure access for patients. After the temporary fix expires, physicians will once again face severe cuts in the level of reimbursement they receive for caring for Medicare patients. In the past, Congress has failed to approve a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rare (SGR), instead passing a series of one-year patches to prevent proposed cuts. After the temporary fix expires, physicians will once again face severe cuts in the level of reimbursement they receive for caring for Medicare patients.

More than 20 million men, women, and children have noninvasive molecular imaging procedures annually. These safe, cost-effective procedures include positron emission tomography (PET) scans to diagnose and monitor treatment of cancer, cardiac stress tests to assess coronary artery disease, bone scans for orthopedic injuries, and lung scans to detect blood clots. Patients also undergo procedures to diagnose abnormal liver and gall bladder function and to diagnose and treat hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer. The advances in imaging technology have significantly reduced the need for exploratory surgery and have changed how physicians diagnose and treat many of our most serious diseases.


Contact: Amy Shaw
Society of Nuclear Medicine

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