Will Radiology Reimbursement be Slashed in 2022?

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2022 Radiology reimbursement continues to be a hot topic. Last month, our article – “2022 Radiology Billing Changes” – described sweeping radiology pay cuts by Medicare if Congress fails to step in by January 1. 

While there is nothing official to report, there has been an avalanche of lobbying and letter writing including predictions for what could happen if the lower radiology billing rates go into effect. 

If Congress or CMS don’t fix 2022 radiology reimbursement, providers predict the closures of many radiology practices

  • Hundreds of radiologists and other physicians have flooded Washington with pleas to avoid massive Medicare cuts set to hit the specialty in a few months.
  • Many feel these cuts will deeply affect communities that have been especially hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Private practices may cut staff, reduce services or simply close.
  • Proposed cuts to physician reimbursement could shutter practices and leave thousands of medically vulnerable patients without access to care, according to a letter from The Society of Interventional Radiologists to CMS.
  • The American Society for Radiation Oncology estimates the specialty will absorb $300 million in Medicare cuts Jan. 1, which “will be devastating to cancer patients and radiation oncology teams, endanger patient access to life-saving treatment and threaten the viability of clinics still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Practices will need to cut staff, freeze hiring and more

  • Several medical groups state that this round of cuts will derail their move to value-based care and impact hiring of new staff. 
  • According to new survey findings commissioned by the AMGA, nearly 43% of medical groups expect to freeze hiring and delay population health initiatives if the Medicare pay cuts go through. Another 37% admitted they would likely eliminate services, and 20% anticipate furloughing or laying off clinical staff.

Radiology groups are lobbying aggressively against 2022 radiology reimbursement cuts

  • The American College of Radiology® (ACR®) is the biggest radiology lobbying group. Efforts by its coalition of providers have led to signatures from more than half the members of Congress on a bipartisan letter to CMS, asking to stop the rate reductions. 
    • “If you have not done so already, tell your member of Congress to join U.S. Reps. Ami Bera, MD, and Larry Bucshon, MD, in urging congressional leaders to extend the 3.75% positive Medicare physician payment adjustment that is scheduled to expire Dec. 31.”
  • The Radiology Business Management Association has launched the Radiology Patient Action Network group to fight the $5B in pay cuts facing the radiology profession.
  • The AMGA is actively urging Congress to intervene, as well as to cancel the conversion factor decrease.

At this point in the radiology reimbursement conversation, it is far too early to predict which, if any, of the proposed cuts will be offset. Radiology practices and providers are faced with having to plan for a 2022 budget with significantly less Medicare reimbursement. Some practices will view this as a contingency plan; others as a baseline plan for 2022. In most cases, practices are likely to postpone as much investment and hiring as possible, until the outcome is known.

 

Resources

https://www.radiologybusiness.com/topics/policy/radiology-practice-closures-cms-medicare-fee-schedule

https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/practices/physician-groups-warn-nearly-10-medicare-cuts-could-stall-shift-to-value-based-care-force

https://www.amga.org/advocacy/key-issues/other-issues/stop-medicare-reimbursement-cuts/ 

https://www.radiologybusiness.com/topics/leadership-workforce/radiology-business-management-association-medicare

https://www.sirweb.org/media-and-pubs/media/news-release-archive/2022-MPFS-proposed-rule-090821/ 

Society of Interventional Radiology Letter to CMS

American Society for Radiation Oncology Letter to CMS Advocacy 

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