Medicare Has Cut Radiology Payments To Physicians by 33% Over Ten Years Interview with:
David C. Levin, MD

Department of Radiology
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Philadelphia, PA 19107. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Radiology had been previously identified as the most rapidly growing of all physician services in the Medicare program during the early years of the 2000-2009 decade. But there have been deep cuts in imaging reimbursement since then. We wanted to determine how these cuts have affected total Medicare payments for imaging.

Our main findings were that since 2006, payments to physicians for imaging under the Medicare Physician Fee schedule have dropped by $4 billion per year, or about 33%. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The Medicare program has achieved huge savings in payments made to doctors for medical imaging. This has affected not just radiologists but also cardiologists, primary care physicians, and other specialties.

One problem this creates is that as a result of the cuts, some private imaging centers have closed and more imaging is starting to shift to hospitals. Since payments to hospitals for imaging are substantially higher than payments to private imaging centers, this could end up costing Medicare more money. Since imaging use has stopped growing in recent years, there doesn’t seem to be a need for further reimbursement cuts, and I believe it would be in CMS’s best interest to refrain from further cuts so private imaging centers can afford to stay in business. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: It’ll be important to continue to study trends in imaging utilization and reimbursement because there are a number of factors in play, some of which could tend to drive up imaging utilization and others of which could tend to reduce it.

Disclosures: I’m a consultant to HealthHelp, LLC and on the board of directors of Outpatient Imaging Affiliates, LLC. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


The Recent Losses in Medicare Imaging Revenues Experienced by Radiologists, Cardiologists, and Other Physicians
David C. Levin, Laurence Parker, Vijay M. Rao
Publication stage: In Press Corrected Proof
Published online: April 24, 2017

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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