Report: Medical imaging spending drops 13%

Angling to keep Congress from cutting imaging reimbursement dollars, the Medical Imaging & Technology (MTIA) Alliance last week unveiled data indicating that spending on medical imaging tests within the Medicare program is on the decline, contrary to popular belief.

Specifically, MTIA pointed to the Deficit Reduction Act as a catalyst in the reduced spending in its report. Since 2006, when the Act was signed into law, imaging services per Medicare beneficiaries dropped 13.2 percent, according to the group's statistics. Medicare patients also are undergoing fewer medical imaging tests, according to MTIA.

"The assumption that life-saving diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy are increasing healthcare costs is simply not true," MTIA Executive Director David Fisher said in a statement. "Even in light of these significant downward trends in spending and utilization, policymakers continue to target medical imaging for more cuts, threatening seniors' access to life-saving services."

Earlier this year, Medicare data indicated that many patients needlessly underwent two chest CT scans when one was sufficient, although the data were from 2009.

The report's authors pointed out that Congress and the Administration cut imaging reimbursements by seven times in six years, inhibiting patients from receiving vital care.

"There are enough barriers keeping patients from effective treatments," Laurie Fenton, president of the Lung Cancer Alliance, said in support of the study. "Congress shouldn't make it any harder for us."

Spending on non-imaging Medicare services, in the meantime, grew by 20 percent since 2006, according to the report's authors.

"Unlike other areas of medicine, imaging utilization and spending are on the decline," American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors Chair Dr. John Patti said.

To learn more:
- read this MTIA news post
- check out this Health Imaging article