U.S. clinicians, so far, have been able to cope with the ongoing medical isotope shortage through various strategies, but many say they are worried that the situation will worsen when a Dutch reactor shuts down later this month for repairs. Combined medical isotope production at the reactors in Belgium, France and South Africa will be between 30% and 40% of normal total production while the Dutch and Canadian reactors are offline, estimates Robert Atcher, SNM past-president and isotope committee chairman.
The White House asked congressional leaders and ranking members from relevant committees from both parties, as well as selected lawmakers of the committees' choosing, to attend the health care summit on Feb. 25. The televised meeting, which will involve nearly 40 legislators, will center on cost containment, the effect of reform on the budget deficit, and insurance issues including coverage and expansion. The administration also said it will publish its version of the legislation prior to the conference.
An observational study of 1,031 stable patients with chest pain of unknown origin seen at an emergency department found that a zero coronary artery calcium score with CT can be associated with excellent short-term results and is predictive of a normal SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging outcome. The finding suggests that such patients can be safely discharged without additional cardiac tests, such as SPECT MPI, which is usually conducted after CAC scoring.
A study of Medicare services data found that physicians are not ordering more exams to compensate for reduced fees resulting from Medicare cuts. The study, however, found that yearly changes in Medicare physician fees as implemented in accordance with Medicare policy can disrupt physician practice patterns. Policymakers should think about modifying the fees policy so that effective but underused services are promoted and less effective but overused services avoided, a researcher said.
The American Medical Association condemned what it called the Senate's short-term fix to block the 21% cut in Medicare reimbursements for doctors. The group said the provision, which is included in the Senate jobs bill, is a short-sighted solution that "increases the size of the cut and cost of reform and makes it very difficult for physicians to care for seniors and military families." The AMA instead endorsed a measure tied to the health reform legislation that offers a permanent solution to the payment formula.