Public Health Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-295

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING RADIOLOGICAL AND IMAGING SERVICES.

Vote Date:

3/21/2016

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/2/2016

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Public Health Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To require the Department of Public Health to study the effects of the revised Department of Social Services Medicaid State Plan Amendment conducted on patient access to radiological and imaging services and reimbursement methodology.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Commissioner Raul Pino, Connecticut Department of Public Health: There is currently limited data available concerning imaging facilities available for the Department's Office of Health Care Access but there will be an updated data compilation monitoring the impact of radiology fee charges in early April. This issue will be continually monitored every quarter. While being unable to conduct the study within the confines of the available resources, the Department also believes this study is unnecessary and would result in duplicative efforts.

Representative Brian S. Becker, 19th Assembly District,: Six dollars for a chest x-ray is a shockingly trivial amount considering it costs more for the medical office to bill the patient for the x-ray. After last year's Department of Social Services forty-two percent cut to reimbursements, two radiology offices in Hartford have already closed. SB 295 will have the Commissioner of Public Health determine how much the new policy has reduced access and submit the findings to the Public Health Committee. Connecticut has a high quality of life, including top ranking for its population's health. We should keep it that way.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Sheldon Toubman, New Haven Legal Assistance Association: Access to primary care providers has substantially improved, the quality of care continues to increase, and the current budget situation concerning Connecticut's Medicaid Program is a cost control success. Clients on Medicaid can generally receive radiology services at a hospital however receiving care outside of that context is difficult especially due to the recent reduction in radiology rates last year to 57% of Medicare rates. Since these rates for radiology were reduced the clients who need these services for purposes of detecting breast cancer, etc. have fewer options for receiving these services and now two of these locations have closed. Studies of access should be conducted to determine the extent to which low specialists rates are impacting access for Medicaid enrollees.

Bryte Johnson, Government Relations Director American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: Senate Bill 295 requires the Commissioner of The Department Public Health to conduct a study of the impact of patient access to care due to the changes in reimbursements for radiological and imaging services. As a result of this study the Commissioner would be required to submit a report of the results of the study, including recommendations to address any access issues, to the Legislature by January 1, 2017. As part of the cuts made last year, the reimbursement methodology in Medicaid state plan for radiological and imaging services was reduced by 42.5%. The impact of this reduction will be most prominent in areas with smaller hospitals and lower capacity. Furthermore these rate reimbursement cuts are leading to fewer providers accepting new Medicaid clients and with non-Medicaid cuts to hospitals that already have reductions in services to patients which leads to inappropriate and inadequate access to patient care. The study will provide a clear understanding of the impact on patient access as well as recommendations for potential improvements.

Thomas Farquhar Radiological Society of Connecticut, Legislative Co-Chair: The Medicaid reductions target only private practice radiologists. They did not affect hospitals or hospital-employed physicians. However private radiology practices are small business, employing hundreds of health care professionals across the state and it is these businesses that are being the most drastically affected. These negative impacts have led to the closing of offices, people losing their jobs, and limited access to patient care. Radiology exams are screening studies and is the first step in the outpatient workups of common medical issues.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

NONE

Reported by: Jessica Accetta

Date: 03/31/16