(DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING) -- At the request of the American College of Radiology, House Energy and Commerce chair Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ways & Means Committee chair Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI), and Ways & Means Subcommittee on Health chair Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) have called on the General Accountability Office to perform a study regarding the effects of physician self-referral of advanced medical imaging and radiation therapy treatments on Medicare spending.
Previous GAO reports, as well as peer-reviewed studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and elsewhere, have shown that when physicians refer patients to imaging facilities in which they have a financial interest, a process known as self-referral, utilization is significantly increased. Private insurance studies indicate that as much as half of self-referred imaging is unnecessary. The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement has cited self-referral as a primary, preventable driver of a sixfold increase to Americans’ radiation exposure from scans since 1980.
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