Medicare to Cut Analog X-ray Payments Starting in 2017

As part of a push to nudge U.S. healthcare providers to adopt digital radiography (DR), the Medicare system will begin reducing payments for exams performed on analog x-ray systems starting in 2017. The year after that, sites using computed radiography (CR) equipment will also see payment reductions. Medicare payments will be reduced by 20% for providers submitting claims for analog x-ray studies starting in 2017 under a provision in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, which was enacted into law in December 2015. Starting in 2018, payments for imaging studies performed on CR equipment would be reduced by 7% for the next five years, and 10% after that.  While the law's provisions on analog x-ray are expected to have a minor impact due to the small number of traditional systems still in operation in the U.S., the reductions in CR payments could have a much broader effect: More than 8,000 CR units are still in service in the U.S. All of these systems must be replaced or imaging facilities will experience payment reductions. The provisions inserted into the Consolidated Appropriations Act are designed to speed the transition of U.S. healthcare providers toward digital radiography by changing the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System. Classified as a "special rule," it specifies a 20% cut starting in 2017 to the technical component of reimbursement for an x-ray taken using film.  The cuts for CR are phased in over time, starting in 2018. Payment for the technical component of an x-ray acquired using computed radiography will be reduced by 7% during the years 2018 to 2022 and by 10% after that.


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