Legislation would ensure timely access to radiology services

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Dear Editor:

COVID-19 patients struggling with lung inflammation and shortness of breath are in need of timely radiology services, such as drainage tubes for infection.

However, even before the pan demic, we were facing a shortage of medical professionals and a greater demand for radiology services, as the complexity of radiologic studies has increased. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the problem.

A solution to the issue is to quickly pass the Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act (MARCA)— S.1544. This legislation, co-sponsored by Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester, would allow radiologists and radiology assistants (RAs) to safely and quickly practice critical diagnostic and care procedures.

RAs receive advanced training and are critically important in providing services and ensuring quality of care for patients, especially in rural areas of Montana. We must act quickly to recognize this group of medical professionals to perform non-diagnostic procedures under Medicare reimbursement.

The implementation of MARCA would classify RAs as non-physician providers able to practice under established state supervision levels, which would free up radiologists to focus on the more complex cases and tasks that only radiologists can perform. Additionally, the passage of this good legislation eases the burden that medical facilities face in recruiting talent especially to rural Montana

I want to thank Senators Daines and Tester for their leadership on MARCA and encourage them to continue working with other senators to ensure timely access to radiology services for COVID-19 patients.

Dr. John Maxwell, MD

Radiologist Glendive, MT