Tackling Imaging Legislation in the Golden State

This post is authored by Norman E. Lepor, MD, FACC, governor-elect of the ACC’s California Chapter.

Legislation that was introduced recently in California has grave implications for how cardiovascular services are delivered not only in the Golden State, but also nationwide if similar sweeping prohibitions are copied by other states. Senate Bill 1215 (S.B. 1215) threatens in-office ancillary exceptions (IOASE) across the House of Medicine, including exceptions for advanced modality  (including PET, CT and MRI) and many other services performed outside cardiology.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s 2011 report to Congress recommended against limiting the IOASE citing potential “unintended consequences such as inhibiting the development of organizations that integrate and coordinate care within a physician practice.” In today’s health care system, care coordination, access and strong patient-physician relationships are crucial for improving the quality of care our patients receive. Instead of working to preserve continuity of care in a setting that is lower cost, high quality, more convenient, and familiar to patients, S.B. 1215 threatens to crumble care coordination and the physician-patient relationship.

The ACC’s California Chapter (CA-ACC), the California Medical Association and numerous other medical groups have banned together to thwart this dangerous legislation. Through a CA-ACC grassroots campaign, chapter members have met face-to-face with lawmakers in recent weeks to educate them on the bill’s consequences. Today, I am in Sacramento along with one of my patients to underscore how this legislation would diminish patient care by limiting access to life-saving cardiovascular services and raise the cost to Medicare and patients alike.  At the end of the day, it’s all about the patient.

Grassroots efforts such as these are imperative to ensuring that lawmakers understand how their decisions impact the cardiovascular community and patients. Tomorrow, during CA-ACC Lobby Day, we’ll have the opportunity to continue the conversation and ensure the voice of cardiology is heard loud and clear.

You can get involved in ACC’s Advocacy efforts by hosting a legislator practice visit, attending the annual Legislative Conference (Sept. 14-16, 2014), and donating to ACC Political Action Committee. Learn more at CardioSource.org/Advocacy.

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