The Recent Losses in Medicare Imaging Revenues Experienced by Radiologists, Cardiologists, and Other Physicians.
J Am Coll Radiol. 2017 Aug;14(8):1007-1012. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2017.02.044. Epub 2017 Apr 24. Levin DC1, Parker L2, Rao VM2.
PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to assess recent trends in Medicare reimbursements to radiologists, cardiologists, and other physicians for noninvasive diagnostic imaging (NDI).
METHODS: The Medicare Part B databases for 2002 to 2015 were the data source. These files provide total allowed payments for all NDI Current Procedural Terminology codes under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. Medicare specialty codes were used to identify payments to radiologists, cardiologists, and all other specialists. In additional to total reimbursements, those made for global, technical component, and professional component claims were studied.
RESULTS: Total reimbursements to physicians for NDI under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule peaked at $11.936 billion in 2006. Over the ensuing years, the Deficit Reduction Act and other cuts reduced them by 33% to $8.005 billion in 2015. Reimbursements to radiologists peaked at $5.300 billion in 2006 but dropped to $4.269 billion by 2015 (-19.5%). NDI reimbursements to cardiologists dropped from $2.998 billion in 2006 to $1.653 billion by 2015 (-44.9%). Most other specialties also saw decreases over the study period. An important reason for the large decline for cardiologists was their dependence on global reimbursement, which saw a 50.5% drop from 2006 to 2015. Radiologists' global payments also dropped sharply (40.4%), but radiologists themselves were somewhat protected by receiving a much larger proportion of their reimbursement for the professional component, which was not nearly as affected by Medicare payment reductions.
CONCLUSIONS: The Deficit Reduction Act and other NDI payment cuts that followed have created huge savings for the Medicare program but have led to sharp reductions in payments received by radiologists, cardiologists, and other physicians for those services.