Publications & Research

Imaging not the main driver of rising Medicare costs

The study’s authors looked at Medicare Part B databases from 2000 to 2010 and tracked noninvasive diagnostic imaging (NDI) payment trends. They found that NDI costs to Medicare Part B dropped 21 percent from 2006 to 2010, bucking the trend of years of rapid growth in Medicare NDI payments.

“We wanted to document what has happened to the amount of money that the Medicare program pays for imaging because of all this attention that has been paid to the growth of imaging,” Dr. David Levin, lead author of the study, told DOTmed News.

According to Levin, reimbursement cuts made a big dent in reducing imaging costs. In 2007, the Deficit Reduction Act took effect and cut Medicare reimbursement for imaging services at free-standing centers. In addition, he said, more recent developments like the Multiple Procedure Payment Reduction (MPPR), code bundling, and a drop in the calculated practice expense per hour for radiology have also contributed to the decline.

“I’m hoping they will look at this and say imaging has been hit hard and maybe instead of continuing to reduce reimbursement, we can look to other ways to save costs,” he said.

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