Article – Imaging centers hit with surprise 30% cut for MRI codes

Full article is here, but requires (free) registration. A short summary (no registration required) is also available here.

The full article is worth a read as it goes into several reimbursement changes happening and pending.

An excerpt…

Because of adjustments made by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in its assumptions about room use time for 2013, reimbursements for CPT code 73721 (lower extremity joint MRI) and 73221 (upper extremity joint MRI) have been cut dramatically, according to Mike Mabry, executive director of the Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA).

“To calculate [relative value units (RVUs)], Medicare estimates labor, medical supply, and equipment costs associated with every procedure,” Mabry told “For these two codes, CMS decreased its estimate of the amount of time the room would be used, from 63 minutes to 33 minutes. They cut the room time in half for those two codes, which results in lower equipment and direct costs and a lower technical component. That’s why freestanding centers are seeing cuts in the range of 30% for these two MRI codes.”

Rick Davis, vice president of Palm Coast Imaging, a freestanding center in Palm Coast, FL, was shocked when he saw his center’s Medicare explanation-of-benefits report.

“In 2012, reimbursement for CPT code 73721 was $427.21,” Davis told “This year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reduced the reimbursement to $297.58. If managed care companies follow suit, freestanding centers will find it difficult to remain open.”

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