A new analysis of Medicare data, released the Washington, D.C.-based Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) says that Medicare spending on medical imaging continues to decline and that Medicare patients are receiving fewer imaging procedures.
According to David Fisher, executive director of MITA, this data is proof of the downward trend in both imaging spending and utilization in Medicare that has occurred in recent years. The analysis shows that spending on imaging services for each Medicare beneficiary has dropped 13.2 percent since 2006, when significant imaging-specific reimbursement cuts from the Deficit Reduction Act began to be implemented, and imaging utilization per beneficiary declined by 3 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, spending for non-imaging Medicare services has grown by 20 percent since 2006 and utilization increased 2 percent in 2010.
The analysis also found that imaging is now a smaller portion of Medicare spending than it was at the turn of the century. According to MITA, Congress and the Administration have cut imaging reimbursements seven times in six years, with payments for some services being reduced by over 60 percent, including bone density screenings, arm and leg artery x-rays, and MRIs of the brain. These cuts hurt patient access and undercut the benefits of early detection.