Defeat of CA Imaging Legislation Protects Patient Access

California Senate Bill 1215 (S.B 1215), which sought to remove the in-office ancillary exception for advanced modality imaging (including PET, CT and MRI) and many other services performed outside cardiology, was successfully defeated on April 28 when the California Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee voted against advancing the legislation. Because California lawmakers were convinced that S.B. 1215 could negatively impact access to cardiovascular services in California, other states do not have the legislative precedent or political momentum to justify similar proposals. Nevertheless, ACC and its chapters will remain vigilant in tracking such proposals and educating state lawmakers on why cardiac imaging is a cost-efficient, life-saving procedure.

The ACC, ACC's California Chapter (CA-ACC), the California Medical Association and numerous other medical groups banded together to thwart this dangerous legislation in the weeks leading up to the committee hearing. Through a CA-ACC grassroots campaign, chapter members met face-to-face with lawmakers to educate them on the bill's consequences. During the committee hearing, Norman E. Lepor, MD, FACC, governor-elect of the CA-ACC (Southern), underscored how this legislation would diminish patient care by limiting access to life-saving cardiovascular services and raise the cost to Medicare and patients. One of Lepor's patients also testified during the hearing about how "choice can make the difference between life and death."

The ACC joined numerous other medical organizations in opposing the legislation by signing onto a Coalition for Patient Centered Imaging letter. The letter pointed to a Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's 2011 report to Congress  that recommended against limiting the Stark law exception for ancillary services citing potential "unintended consequences such as inhibiting the development of organizations that integrate and coordinate care within a physician practice."

Grassroots efforts such as these are imperative to ensuring that lawmakers understand how their decisions impact the cardiovascular community and patients. Get involved in ACC's Advocacy efforts by inviting state and congressional legislators to tour your office or meeting with them in their home offices. Also, be sure to mark your calendar for ACC's annual Legislative Conference, Sept. 14-16, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Keywords: Patient Care, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, Economic Development, Politics, Cost Savings

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