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Wilson Sponsors CARE Bill
A bill designed to ensure that qualified personnel perform medical imaging and radiation therapy procedures in the United States is back in the spotlight, now that a new sponsor has reintroduced the long-anticipated measure in Congress. Congresswoman Heather Wilson, R-N.M., introduced HR 1011, the bipartisan Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence (CARE), bill in the House of Representatives on March 13.
Under current law, basic training standards are voluntary, which allows individuals to perform radiologic procedures without any formal education and sometimes after only a few weeks of on-the-job training.
“Most Americans assume that the person taking their x-ray, performing their CT scan or delivering their radiation therapy is a qualified professional,” said Rep. Wilson. “This legislation will ensure that the people performing radiologic examinations are qualified.”
Rep. Wilson’s bill, titled the Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence (CARE) bill, directs the Department of Health and Human Services to establish educational and credentialing standards for personnel who plan and deliver radiation therapy and perform all types of diagnostic imaging procedures except medical ultrasound. States would be required to meet the federal minimum standards or risk losing Medicaid reimbursement for radiologic procedures.
The CARE bill would amend the Consumer-Patient Radiation Health and Safety Act, a 1981 law that established minimum standards for the education and credentialing of radiologic technologists. Because compliance with the 1981 Act is voluntary, only 35 states have enacted licensure laws for radiographers, only 28 states license radiation therapists, and only 21 states license nuclear medicine technologists. In states where no licensure exists, individuals are permitted to perform radiologic procedures without any formal education.
“The lack of uniform standards nationwide for operators of medical imaging and radiation therapy equipment represents a little-known risk to patients,” said Rep. Wilson. “Accurate diagnosis and effective treatment can be provided only when personnel are properly educated in anatomy, technique, equipment operation and radiation safety.”
According to Rep. Wilson, passage of the CARE bill will improve the overall quality of American health care. “Not only will uniform standards guarantee higher quality images, it will also help reduce patients’ exposure to radiation,” she said. “High quality diagnostic information is critical to ensuring that patients receive the proper diagnosis and treatment.”
The CARE bill previously was introduced late in the 106th session of Congress by Rep. Rick Lazio, R-N.Y.
Rep. Wilson serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over public health, finance, telecommunications and energy issues. Almost half of all House legislation comes through the Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep. Wilson serves on the health subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over this issue.
“The safety and quality of radiologic procedures is an issue that affects all of us,” said Michael DelVecchio, president of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, an organization that represents more than 88,000 medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals. “Every year, seven out of 10 Americans undergo some type of radiologic examination. The CARE bill will help ensure that those examinations are performed by people who are trained, qualified and competent.”
The CARE bill is backed by the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy, a coalition of 16 radiologic science organizations that represents more than 250,000 health care professionals. It also has support from a number of patient groups and health care organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association’s Council on Cardiovascular Radiology, the Cancer Research Foundation of America and the American College of Radiology.
The bipartisan cosponsors of the bill include Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), John J. "Jimmy" Duncan (R-Tenn.), Lane Evans (D-Ill.) and Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) The first committee of reference will be the House Energy & Commerce committee.
You may download a copy of the Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence bill if you have Acrobat Reader.
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