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ACR ACTION ALERT: Congressmen Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Bruce Braley (D-IA) to Offer Self-Referral Amendment to House Health Care Reform Package

ACR ACTION ALERT: Congressmen Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Bruce Braley (D-IA) to Offer Self-Referral Amendment to House Health Care Reform Package

Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California recently introduced HR 2962, the Integrity in Medicare Advanced Diagnostic Imaging Act of 2009. The bill would close the in-office ancillary service exemption for MRI, CT and PET currently allowed under the Stark self-referral law and end the practice of self-referral for those modalities under Medicare. ACR has long-advocated for the closure of this loophole which allows physicians to refer their patients to imaging equipment they own within their office.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is one of the three jurisdictional committees “marking up” (debating and offering amendments to) healthcare reform legislation this week. As supporters of the Speier legislation and members who sit on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Congressman Anthony Weiner and Congressman Bruce Braley have decided to offer HR 2962 as an amendment to the Healthcare Reform Package currently being debated in their committee.

Action Requested:
ACR needs you to call your Congressman/Congresswoman today and ask to speak with their Health Legislative Assistant (Health LA) about the Weiner/Braley self-referral amendment.

Although your Member of Congress may not sit on the Energy and Commerce Committee, it is crucial to try to get your member’s office to express their support for this amendment directly to Congressman Weiner and Congressman Braley.

When speaking to the Health LA or leaving a message, request that your representative, or his office, contact Congressman Weiner’s or Congressman Braley’s office to offer their support for the amendment to be offered this week during the Committee’s mark-up of the healthcare reform package.

ACR has provided some talking points below, but please feel free to personalize and localize your own experience with self-referral.

Talking Points:

* The over utilization of imaging services through the practice of self-referral places a burden on an already cash strapped Medicare system.

* Independent studies estimate that reducing unnecessary exams by self-referrers can generate between $500 million and $1.5 billion in savings to the Medicare program.

* Advanced imaging modalities such as MR, CT and PET should not be considered in-office ancillary services along with blood and urine tests.

* Two federal government research agencies have acknowledged the problem of self-referral:
> The Government Accountability Office’s June, 2008 stated, “…physicians in specialties other than radiology who billed Medicare for in-office imaging services obtained an increasing share of their Medicare revenue from imaging services from 2000 to 2006.”

> The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) added in its June 2009 report, “Several studies have found that physicians who furnish imaging services in their offices refer patients for more tests than other physicians.

* The health risks to patients of these practices cannot be ignored. Nonradiologist providers often lack even basic radiation safety training and may not be aware of potential repercussions to patients of ordering and often administering high volumes of scans.

Please make your voice is heard and contact your Energy and Commerce Committee representative today! The more support we can generate, the better chance we may have to incorporate self-referral language into the healthcare reform legislation currently being debated on Capitol Hill.


Click here to view the opposition this amendment is generating.

Click here to find your representative if you do not know who your congressman is. In the upper left hand corner of the screen you will see “Find Your Representative.” Follow the prompts. [ACR members who live in areas where one zip code may be divided between representatives may have difficulty with this mechanism.]

If still having difficulty finding your representative, please call the ACR Government Relations Department at 202-223-1670.

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