August 5 Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) introduced the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility, and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Act (CARE Act, S. 3737), which would require education and certification of professionals who perform medical imaging and radiation therapy. An identical House bill (H.R. 3652) was introduced by Representative John Barrow (D-GA) in September 2009. H.R. 3652 has 116 co-sponsors.
Specifically, the legislation requires personnel who perform or plan the technical component of either medical imaging examinations or radiation therapy procedures for medical purposes to possess:
- certification in each medical imaging or radiation therapy modality and service provided from a certification organization designated by the Secretary of HHS; or
- state licensure or certification where such services and modalities are within the scope of practice as defined by the state for such profession and where the requirements for licensure, certification, or registration meet or exceed the standards established by the Secretary of HHS. It exempts physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
The legislation also directs the Secretary of HHS to:
- establish minimum standards for personnel who perform, plan, evaluate, or verify patient dose for medical imaging examinations or radiation therapy procedures;
- establish a program for designating certification organizations after consideration of specified criteria;
- provide a method for the recognition of individuals whose training or experience are determined to be equal to, or in excess of, those of a graduate of an accredited educational program in that specialty; and
- approve and publish a list of accrediting bodies for such certification organizations. Authorizes the Secretary of HHS to develop alternative standards for rural or health professional shortage areas as appropriate to assure access to quality medical imaging.
Finally, it amends the Social Security Act to allow Medicare payment for medical imaging and radiation therapy services furnished on or after January 1, 2013, only if the examination or procedure is planned or performed by an individual who meets this Act’s requirements.
With the aim of raising the profile of medical imaging through education and advocacy to benefit patient care, the Academy of Radiology Research and the Coalition for Imaging and Bioengineering Research will continue to update you on all pertinent legislation.