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Lives Compromised and Patient Access Limited with New Cuts to Medicare
Date:11/24/2009

tly being considered most often are:

  • 64% would delay the purchase of echo equipment;
  • 56% would lay off sonographers or other staff;
  • 53% would reduce staff salaries;
  • 47% might reduce staff benefits, such as 401K programs or healthcare;
  • 23% would refrain from accepting Medicare patients for any services;
  • 19% are considering closing a satellite office(s) or have already closed a satellite office(s); 60% of these are located in rural areas.

For those echocardiography service providers who will be indirectly affected by the payment cuts (those who receive payment through the Hospital Outpatient Payment System), the survey showed anticipated outcomes would include:

  • Increased workload (74%)
  • Longer wait times for patients (67%)
  • Lengthened turnaround time for reports (44%)
  • Increased overtime for staff or the need to hire additional cardiac sonographers (43%)

ASE collected regional anecdotes from almost 200 members who will be affected by the cuts. Many provided examples of patients who might have died had in-office echocardiography services not been available.

One respondent noted, "During an initial exam, a 55-year-old male was noted to have a diastolic murmur. He was scheduled for an echo at the hospital in two weeks. Our lab was able to fit him in within 24 hours. I discovered a 7.5 cm. ascending aortic aneurysm and 'wide open' aortic insufficiency. He had surgical repair that same day and has recovered nicely. One can't help but wonder what the outcome might have been had he waited for his hospital appointment."

For more information visit SeeMyHeart.org.

About ASE

The American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) is a professional organization of physicians, cardiac sonographers, nurses and scientists involved in echocardiography, the use of ultrasound to image the heart and cardiovascular sy
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