August 2004 Bulletin

AMA House of Delegates supports AAOS on radiology issue

By Robert Fine, JD

The 500-plus members of the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates, meeting in Chicago June 12-16, voted overwhelmingly in favor of an AAOS-sponsored resolution calling for the AMA to oppose any attempts to prevent non-radiologists from providing imaging services in their offices. The American College of Radiology (ACR) and its state societies may be pursuing similar efforts in Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio and other states.

The resolution came in the wake of suspected recent attempts by the ACR to get the Medicare fraud and abuse laws (also known as the Stark laws) changed to prohibit non-radiologists, including orthopaedists, from providing x-rays and other imaging services in their offices.

Originally introduced as an emergency item by the American College of Cardiology, the resolution was also sponsored by several other national medical specialty societies, whose delegates worked tirelessly to bring it to the attention of all AMA delegates.

Since the House of Delegates is the policymaking arm of the AMA, the AMA will have to join most of the rest of medicine in opposing any attempts to change the Stark laws. The ACR may have already begun to plant the seeds of change in the current Congress. However, that legislative body’s preoccupation with election year activities, Iraq and other matters makes it unlikely that any changes will seriously be considered until next year.

In the meantime, the AAOS will work with other associations, including the AMA, to overcome any attempts next year to prevent non-radiologists from providing imaging services in their offices.

There are more than 50 orthopaedists who currently serve in the AMA House of Delegates. They represent several musculoskeletal specialty societies in addition to the AAOS, including the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the North American Spine Society. They also serve on the delegations of many state medical associations. These orthopaedists caucus together at the AMA House of Delegates meetings, which are held in June and December, to discuss issues of importance to orthopaedists and to formulate strategies for convincing other delegates to adopt orthopaedic positions on issues.

Robert Fine, JD, is AAOS department director of socioeconomic and state society affairs. He can be reached at fine@aaos.org


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