Speaking Up for Imaging
New national poll results show Americans don't want further cuts to medical imaging.
The field of imaging has been a favorite target for policymakers in recent years. So, when deficit-reduction talks began on Capitol Hill last summer, the ACR took action against further Medicare imaging cuts.
To prepare for the legislative fight, the College polled 1,000 registered American voters between Aug. 31 and Sept. 6, 2011, about the pending budget cuts and the value of radiologic services. The purpose of the poll was to gauge public opinion on health care, imaging, and the threat to access. The results show that American voters place great value on medical imaging. In fact, 70 percent of Americans oppose Medicare cuts to imaging services. The poll's result enabled the ACR to develop a research-based, public affairs campaign directed at members of the congressional supercommittee, entitled "America Speaks: Radiology Saves LivesSM."
John A. Patti, M.D., FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors and radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, in a series of e-mails and a YouTube video, asked ACR members to engage in the campaign by writing op-eds and letters to the editor of their local newspapers, posting on social media sites, and putting banner ads on their practices' websites. "We need to tell policymakers in Washington that patients are ill-served whenever politicians and bureaucrats take it upon themselves to pick winners and losers in the health-care arena," he wrote. "Making medical imaging services less accessible for Medicare patients will mean that many older Americans will not receive prompt diagnoses and preventative health care. That's neither morally right nor economically smart."
According to Cynthia R. Moran, ACR assistant executive director for government relations, economics, and health policy, the poll's results were vital to launching the campaign, which included print and web advertising, new media coverage, social media, and face-to-face meetings with lawmakers. "You want your voice to be heard among everybody else's," she explains. "Everybody in Washington is screaming 'don't cut me.'"
However, the noise on the Hill wasn't going to stop the ACR from being vocal. "The College will leave no stone unturned to fight unjustified, unsubstantiated reimbursement reductions," says Moran.
ACR members can view expanded poll results online at http://bit.ly/ACRPollResults. ACR members are strongly urged to take part in the America Speaks: Radiology Saves Lives advocacy campaign. Get involved at www.radiologysaveslives.org.
By Alyssa Martino