Ken Davis, a partner in the firm’s Health Care Practice, was quoted in an article on AuntMinnie.com on the impact of health care legislation on radiology. “The first question, a legitimate one, is whether there’s anything good in this legislation for radiology at all,” Mr. Davis says. “I don’t perceive it as health care reform, but rather as health insurance reform. If you unpack it, there are some things in there that are changed, but the bill did not fundamentally restructure how Medicare pays or how people provide clinical care.”
As a result of the legislation, physicians who self-refer for imaging services will now be required to provide patients with a document that informs them of their right to go elsewhere. “This notice requirement is unequivocally good for radiology. Radiology groups and independent diagnostic testing facilities will benefit,” he says.
The legislation also calls for the implementation of an accountable care organization (ACO) demonstration project. An ACO is a group of providers—one or more hospitals, primary care physicians, and perhaps specialists—held responsible for the quality and cost of health care for a population of Medicare beneficiaries. “The speculation is that the easiest entity to deem an accountable care organization is a hospital, and moving toward this model could prompt hospitals to try to incorporate independent medical practices under their auspices,” Mr. Davis says, adding, “Right now I’m not seeing interest from hospitals in acquiring radiology practices. But it’s still legitimate on the part of radiologists to wonder whether, in five or ten years, freestanding radiology practices will be viable.” (“Life after healthcare reform: Good, bad, and ugly,” May 13, 2010)