Bills boost role of radiology assistants, ease claims submissions

Legislation recently proposed in the Senate and House of Representatives would enhance the role of radiology assistants and lesson administrative burdens for radiologists.

SB 1554, offered by Sen. John Boozman (R- Ark.) and HB 1974, proposed by Rep. Mike Doyle (D- Pa.) would permit radiologists to submit claims to Medicare for non-imaging services performed by radiologist assistants in hospital and office settings.

Boozman-John2-CROP.jpg

The Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act, or MARCA, would permit Medicare recognition of radiologist assistants as midlevel providers of healthcare services working under the supervision of a radiologist. The bill is intended to ensure patients, particularly those in rural areas with fewer healthcare options, have timely and quality access to radiology services.

Also See: Care New England revamps its radiology portfolio

Medicare recently changed rules to allow radiology assistants to perform services under “direct supervision,” which means a radiologist need not be in the room during services but must be in the facility and immediately available if necessary. However, the radiology practices that employ radiology assistants are unable to submit claims to Medicare for services performed by those assistants in hospital and office settings where they normally work.

“Hospitals in Arkansas and around the country are always searching for better ways to deliver medical services to patients in more cost-effective ways,” Boozman says. “These healthcare professionals are well qualified to address the increased demand in medical imaging services and fill the gap in the shortage of radiologists.”

More than 100 national, state and local organizations, associations and companies support the proposed bills. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Joh Tester (D-Mont.) are co-sponsoring the bills.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.