Radiologists Call Medicare Law ‘Irrational’

OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – An “irrational” federal law requires radiologists who interpret X-rays and MRIs, but do not interact with patients, to submit Medicare patients’ histories and physical data, and doesn’t pay them if they do, a radiology partnership claims in court.
     Diagnostic Imaging Group and Drs. Ernest Mckenzie and John Hamlin sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Novitas Solutions, in Federal Court.
     The doctors “seek to declare invalid and permanently enjoin the enforcement of Medicare and Medicaid’s eligible professional meaningful use penalties for noncompliance,” which they claim place unreasonable and illegal demands on radiologists.
     The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act imposes penalties, set to begin in 2015, on medical professionals who do not submit Meaningful Use reports, which include patient history and physical exam information, with their Medicare bills.
     The law “makes no differentiation in its meaningful use rules and regulations between hospital-based radiologists who only interpret inpatient and outpatient imaging studies without doing histories and physicals on patients and hospital- based radiologists who are interventionalists who interact with patients similar to surgeons and cardiologists where histories and physicals are necessary prior to intervention,” the plaintiffs say in the lawsuit.
     The defendants refuse to compensate hospital radiologists for performing histories and the physical exam demanded by law to obtain the meaningful use data.
     “The effect of that refusal is involuntary servitude, a violation of the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” according to the complaint.
     The plaintiffs also claim the refusal violates the 5th Amendment prohibition of seizure of “private property of physical labor in taking histories and physicals.”
     “There is no rational basis for the law … to impose on hospital radiologists who are not admitting or treating patients the demands of meaningful use when the same information and data is obtained from the hospital medical records and the eligible hospital meaningful use reports and the treating physician records,” the complaint states.
     The plaintiffs seek a court order declaring that requiring such radiologists to submit meaningful use data is unconstitutional.
     Alternatively, they ask the court to declare that the defendants must compensate plaintiffs for history and physical examinations performed on Medicare and Medicaid patients to obtain the meaningful use data.
     They are represented by John Hamlin, of Clinton, Okla.

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