Election results could have a big impact on radiology

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With its special October issue on health policy, the Journal of the American College of Radiology reminds us that healthcare, now more than ever, is taking center stage in the debate about public policy.

"Healthcare reform will continue to be a central issue in society regardless of the outcome of the election in November," James Rawson, M.D., guest editor of the health policy issue, said in an ACR announcement. "Information presented ... will help radiologists be involved in directing overall health policy and budget discussions."

Anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention to the election campaign has a sense of how the results could, in general, impact health policy going forward. For example, a report issued October 2 by the Commonwealth Fund calculates that under a Romney administration, 72 million Americans will be uninsured by 2022, compared to 27.1 million if the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented under a second Obama administration.

Specifically, with regard to radiology, though, reimbursements and utilization rates for medical equipment will be key.

Romney, for instance, already promised that under his watch, the Affordable Care Act would be repealed. Some of the law's provisions directly impact imaging reimbursement, such as the assumed 75 percent imaging equipment utilization rate, and the up to 50 percent reduction in the technical component of multiple procedures in advanced imaging.

With that in mind, Frank Lexa, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, writes that radiologists should consider getting involved in the campaign, whether by actively supporting candidates at the presidential and congressional levels, or through the simple act of voting. He says that they should strategically plan for different outcomes that are bound to affect them both individually and as a group.

Ignoring the election and its possible outcome really is not an option, though. Any radiologist who does, does so at his or her own peril. - Mike