U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) has introduced a bill called the Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act, which, if passed would, allow for Medicare coverage of qualified radiology assistant services.
According to the American Association of Radiologic Technologists, radiology assistants work under radiologist supervision and perform certain imaging and patient-care duties that traditionally are performed by radiologists.
"With radiologist oversight, RAs are perfectly qualified to perform aspects of imaging, patient assessment, management and procedures that allow radiologists the time to focus on procedures and consultations that can be performed only by a radiologist," Joy Renner, chair of the Radiologist Assistants Educators Council, said in an announcement from the ARRT. "RAs allow radiologists to devote more focused, uninterrupted time reviewing and interpreting medical images and providing timely diagnoses which will provide for efficient, appropriate medical treatment. This means greater timeliness, accuracy and quality of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries. Consumers demand this level of care and are certainly entitled to this level of care, as well."
Reichert called extending coverage to RAs "common sense," according to an article in The Dispatch. "RAs are highly trained and skilled professionals who have mastered complex technologies and understand how to best serve radiology patients in a safe and effective manner," he said. "[P]assage of this legislation would play an essential role in improving and increasing patient access to radiology services."
Such coverage would create savings, according to ARRT, by reducing the reimbursement level for the professional component of procedures performed.