The government wants to tighten the screw on radiology spending

Posted Nov 28, 2022, 4:20 PMUpdated on Nov. 28, 2022, 7:03 p.m.

The government wants to limit the expenses billed by radiologists to Medicare. Before again shortening the debates in Parliament on the Social Security financing project (PLFSS) for 2023 last week, he amended his text at the last minute, with a measure giving him more control over these expenses, which reached almost 5 billion euros in 2021.

The new version of the PLFSS notably gives the executive the power to determine what the costs covered by Medicare cover for heavy medical imaging procedures such as scanners and MRIs. And this, in the four months following the adoption of the budget, for entry into force no later than 1er July 2023. A way to speed up negotiations with the profession.

Contrast products in the viewfinder

The government had announced in September to aim for 150 million euros in savings in the sector, by limiting expenses related to “contrast products”. Facilitating radiological examinations, these products are now purchased by patients in pharmacies and taken to radiologists, but not always used. Medicare would like to avoid wasting them.

Hence the idea of ​​having these products purchased by imaging centers and including them in the “technical flat rate” that they can receive (in addition to the remuneration for the medical act) for the cost of equipment , staff, etc. With this system, professionals should be able to use the same dose of product for several patients.

The measure is accepted in principle by radiologists. “In all the countries of the world, we do multi-patient injections, I prefer that we save money this way rather than in an absurd way by lowering the value of the acts”, explains Jean-Philippe Masson, president of the Federation. national association of radiologists (FNMR).

Dropped from the ballast

The draft budget also provides for increased transparency on the charges of radiologists. Concretely, Medicare will be able to carry out a cost study on the sector every three years with a sample of professionals. Enough to allow him to have solid data when negotiating with professionals on their remuneration.

The executive has, moreover, let go of ballast on another aspect of the supervision of the sector. “In order to recall the preeminence of conventional negotiation” with radiologists, he decided to remove the possibility for Medicare to decide “unilaterally” to lower the amounts of “technical packages” paid to professionals.

“We appreciate the gesture”, greets Jean-Philippe Masson. Introduced in 2017, this provision was frowned upon by radiologists. “The government and Medicare are choosing authoritarianism against partnership”, still stormed the FNMR in mid-October. The organization also drew a parallel between this provision and the measures targeting biologists provided for in the 2023 Social Security budget.

These, which aim to achieve at least 250 million euros in savings, in a sector that has emerged strengthened from the Covid crisis, continue to be unanimously against them in the profession. Last week, the Alliance of medical biology called again for a strike this Thursday. “The radiologists will not go on strike”, assures Jean-Philippe Masson of the FNMR.

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