Reimbursement can and does get a bit confusing. Imaging equipment does not run cheap, nor does maintaining and servicing, thus offices outside of the hospitals who provide imaging services to help patients avoid the over crowding at the hospitals have the same expenses for maintenance and service. I do hear the argument that labor is less with an outside screening facility, but that is only one part of the total equation. Was labor the only consideration in reducing compensation? BD
WASHINGTON (AP) - Medical imaging equipment makers are lobbying to overturn Medicare cutbacks after weathering some of the worst sales numbers in recent memory.
Congress made the cuts following criticism that some health care providers were performing more tests than necessary simply to boost revenue. But equipment makers such as General Electric Co., and providers of diagnostic tests such as Alliance Imaging Inc., are waging a campaign to convince federal lawmakers that the six-month-old policy is having a negative impact on public health.
The reimbursement changes also affect companies that provide imaging services such as Anaheim, Calif.-based Alliance Imaging, which operates mobile centers that travel from site to site.
Although 90 percent of Alliance''s business is tied to hospitals, which are unaffected by the cuts, management warned that reduced payments would hurt earnings by $14 million in 2007. Alliance is a member of the Access to Medical Imaging Coalition.
The cuts took effect in January and reduce how much doctors are paid for running X-rays, medical resonance imaging and other tests on patients enrolled in the government-run health program for seniors. The Medicare payment changes, which are expected to save $2.8 billion over five years, sent sales of scanners made by GE, Siemens AG, Toshiba Corp. and others tumbling more than 20 percent last quarter, according to data provided by an industry group.
Opponents argue that if fewer doctors offer in-office imaging, patients will have to travel further and wait longer for medical scans that detect cancer, heart disease and other ailments.