Washington, D.C.– The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) joined a broad coalition in sending a letter urging congressional lawmakers to include additional support for America’s healthcare provider infrastructure as they consider further legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The message comes as health systems across dozens of states continue to grapple with a second spike in coronavirus cases.
Alongside MITA, letter signatories included the American College of Radiology, American Society of Radiologic Technologists, Association for Quality Imaging Centers for Diagnostic Imaging, Radiology Business Management Association and the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.
“Congress has the responsibility and opportunity to implement common-sense reforms that will bolster the U.S. health system even during a pandemic,” said Patrick Hope, Executive Director of MITA. “We and our coalition partners look forward to working with congressional leaders to affect positive change that mitigates provider needs today and also extends beyond the COVID-19 emergency.”
Signatories outlined several policy priorities that lawmakers should consider when drafting any forthcoming pandemic relief legislation. These include:
- Waive budget neutrality for the Medicare payment changes for evaluation and management (E/M) services: Given the disruptive impact of COVID-19 on a broad cross-section of U.S. specialty providers, the letter advocated against reimbursement cuts that undermine patient access to care. Signatories urged lawmakers to waive budget neutrality provision for E/M services included in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ final Medicare Physician Fee Schedule rule for CY 2020.
- Provide Medicare loan forgiveness and the extension of sequestration relief for health providers: As hospitals and other providers face growing costs associated with purchasing needed PPE and implementing infection control measures, they must also contend with staggering losses and a severe economic outlook related to the uncertainty of seeing non-emergent and elective procedure patients. Recognizing this reality, letter signatories requested that Congress forgive the accelerated advanced payments made under the CARES Act and extend the current suspension on Medicare sequestration cuts. Taking these actions would help ensure hospitals and other providers can continue functioning throughout the public health emergency.
- Establish a loan program for capital equipment during the coronavirus pandemic: The pandemic has underscored the need for high-quality, up-to-date capital equipment to monitor and stage treatment. With providers sustaining significant financial losses, the ability for them to continue updating and maintaining their capital equipment has diminished. Letter signatories, therefore, recommend Congress establish or allow Provider Relief Funds be used for a capital equipment loan program.
- Allow for temporary payment increase to Medicare providers to defray the costs of PPE and other infection control activities: To offset the growing costs of necessary safety measures, including infection control, PPE, and other capital improvements, signatories requested that Congress provide a small payment increase of 1 percent for services provided through December 2021.