Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016
By Luann J. Culbreth, CRA, FAHRA
Last Christmas, the radiology community received yet another “gift” of pending Medicare payment reductions based on imaging equipment standards. Amidst the package of Omnibus Appropriations and Tax Extenders were policy changes which included reductions in radiographic Medicare payments. Beginning in 2017 CMS will reduce payments for the technical component of x-ray images taken with film by 20%. Then in 2018 there will be a 7% reduction for the technical component of x-ray images using CR, which will escalate to 10% in 2023. The reductions apply to any type of imaging facility billing with CPT codes, including hospital outpatient departments, free standing centers, and physician offices. All are expected to transition towards digital radiography (DR) for radiographic imaging.
Although this type of reduction had been proposed in previous bills, most of the radiology community was caught by surprise when this was announced late last year. In the spring, AHRA conducted a brief survey of its members to gauge the potential impact on facilities and related equipment. On behalf of the AHRA Regulatory Affairs Committee, thank you to the 515 members who responded. Your input helps guide the committee’s discussions as it relates to the operational challenges of our members. Click here to view the survey results and see how this legislation will be impacting your peers.
Luann J. Culbreth, CRA, FAHRA is a member of the AHRA Regulatory Affairs Committee. She is the director, clinical operations at HealthTrust in Brentwood, TN. She can be reached at LuannCulbreth@gmail.com.