The Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA) sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outlining a series of recommendations the agency should take to ensure continued access to essential medical imaging services both during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As patients rightfully take steps to reduce viral transmission of COVID-19 and avoid our healthcare infrastructure unless vitally necessary, we must keep an eye on the long-term implications for our healthcare system,” says Patrick Hope, executive director of MITA. “The majority of available data suggests patients are not getting the imaging exams they need to properly diagnose and address a host of medical ailments. It is of timely importance that lawmakers and regulatory officials implement policies that address the current crisis and mitigate future public health consequences arising from the pandemic.”
The letter comes as recent data indicates that medical imaging procedures have dropped 50% or more. While this utilization reduction has put enormous, and in some cases, untenable financial strain on imaging providers across the nation, more importantly it indicates that countless patients are not getting imaging services when they need them.
Noting these developments, the letter underscored the need for policies supportive of infection control measures, the reduction of burdensome prior authorization requirements, and communication initiatives to ensure patients understand the importance of rescheduling their missed exams. The letter also urged CMS to postpone or suspend payment cuts and additional previously-approved administrative actions that would compound the effects of the pandemic.
“We applaud the preliminary actions undertaken by CMS and the Administration to guide healthcare providers to deliver care both in-person and through telepresence,” Hope noted. “We believe our recommendations will strengthen our healthcare infrastructure as it gets back on its feet in the months ahead. These policies will help to ensure appropriate payment and incentivize a more normal experience for Medicare beneficiaries and providers.”