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Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act of 2021

The American Society of Radiologic Technologists, American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and the Society for Radiology Physician Extenders are working together to amend Medicare reimbursement policy for radiologist assistants to align it with state radiologist assistant licensure and regulations.

House Resolution 3657 was introduced on June 1, 2021, by Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and Senate Bill 2641 was introduced on Aug. 5, 2021, by Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas. These companion bills will amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for payment of services of radiologist assistants under the Medicare program.

In late 2018, Medicare amended its payment policy to adjust the radiologist supervision levels for radiologist assistants. The ASRT, ARRT and SRPE are now advocating for the adoption of statutory language in Medicare that will ensure that regardless of the setting in which the radiology service is performed; hospital, critical access hospital, ambulatory surgical center or any other facility setting, that services provided by a radiologist assistant, supervised by a radiologist as part of a radiologist-led patient care team receive complete Medicare reimbursement. By not separating radiologist assistant reimbursement policies into different payment categories by service location, the adoption of MARCA would enable radiologists to devote more focused time to reviewing and interpreting complex medical images or urgent cases, thus increasing patients’ access to care. RAs will be able to work more efficiently, and Medicare patients will receive care from qualified RAs regardless of the facility in which their procedure takes place.

RAs must complete a rigorous academic program encompassing a nationally recognized curriculum, a radiologist-directed clinical preceptorship, and a mandatory nationally recognized certification examination.

Without complete Medicare reimbursement for RA services paid to the radiology practices employing them, the RA profession is in peril. As a direct result of Medicare’s current policy, RAs are losing their jobs and are unable to practice to the full extent of their capabilities. Medicare patients are not receiving the full benefit of care provided by a qualified and experienced radiology professional providing patient care as part of a radiologist-led care team.

Additionally, the survival of the RA role is not only critical to maintaining quality patient care but to protecting a career advancement pathway for all technologists. Currently, a number of educational programs have either closed or gone on hiatus significantly diminishing opportunities for future students.

MARCA Resources

RAs allow radiologists to devote more focused, uninterrupted time reviewing and interpreting complex medical images and providing timely diagnoses that will result in efficient, appropriate medical treatment. The enactment of MARCA means greater timeliness, accuracy and quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries. Patients need, and deserve, this level of care, and Medicare beneficiaries are certainly entitled to this level of care as well.