Owners Medical Imaging Centers Could Close
By Charlotte Libov
New regulations that cut Medicare reimbursement for medical imaging procedures performed in independent clinics could force businesses to close, owners said.
"I predict that by January 2009, there will not be a single independent diagnostic center open," said Alberto Eiber, owner of Eiber Radiology in Hialeah.
"I don’t know if its Congress’ intention to destroy this industry or not," said Vladimir S. Grnja of Radiology Consultants, which operates centers in Hollywood and Pembroke Pines as well as West Palm Beach and Jacksonville.
They cited the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which went into effect Jan. 1. The act cuts Medicare reimbursements for independent centers but not for hospitals.
A survey by diagnostic imaging lobbying group Access to Medical Imaging Coalition showed that 87% of procedures affected by the law would not be reimbursed for the full cost of independent imaging procedures. Such procedures include MRIs, CAT scans, PET scans, X-rays and ultrasound tests.
Kathy Reep, vice president of the Florida Hospital Association, said the schedule puts independents’ fees in line with those charged by hospitals. "I can’t tell you if the freestanding facilities will respond to this by not providing services. If they make that decision, it would impact hospitals in terms of volume, but I don’t know now if that will be a burden," she said.
A check of the American College of Radiology’s Web site shows 33 independent centers in Miami-Dade County, although some are run in conjunction with hospitals. About 85% of radiology facilities are members of the organization, said president Shawn Farley. Advertisement