INA – US Rep. John Shimkus recently received a plaque from Rend Lake College Radiologic Technology officials in recognition of his efforts with a bill addressing issues at the root of healthcare.
The Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy bill, or CARE bill, calls for the establishment of minimum standards for personnel who perform procedures. According to Shimkus (R-Illinois-19) it would ensure that personnel are qualified to produce the images doctors use to make life-saving decisions. The 19th District representative from Collinsville is a co-sponsor of the bill and a former member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health.
Over the past decade, Radiologic Technologists and professional in the field have made trips to Washington D.C. to gain support for the CARE Bill, according to Kim Robert, Radiologic Technology program director at RLC. She presented Shimkus the plaque on Wednesday and said the CARE bill would require completion of the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists National Board certification, as is required in Illinois.
“Illinois is considered the gold standard since being regulated in 1985,” Robert said.
According to the bill, eight states – Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, North
Carolina, Oklahoma and South Dakota – and the District of Columbia allow people with little or no training to perform x-rays, MRI scans, CT scans and other diagnostic imaging examinations. It further states that inadequately educated personnel are allowed to deliver radiation therapy designed to treat cancer in 18 states and that they are allowed to perform nuclear medicine procedures in 24 states.
Supported by the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy – a coalition of 18 organizations that together represent more than 300,000 health care professionals – the CARE bill would require institutions to hire only qualified personnel to be eligible to participate in federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid. It would enforce the Consumer-Patient Radiation Health and Safety Act of 1981, which was made discretionary for each state and, as a result, was adopted by only 38 states.
The suggested enforcement mechanism for the CARE bill would call for institutions which provide medical imaging or radiation therapy do so only with personnel who meet or exceed minimum educational and credentialing standards set by the federal government or risk losing federal reimbursement for these procedures.
The bill claims to provide measures that would ensure quality information is presented for diagnosis, reduce healthcare costs by lowering the number of medical imaging examinations that need to be repeated as a result of ignorance, and improve the safety of medical imaging and radiation therapy procedures.
The Birmingham News in Alabama reported that “Someone with no background in anatomy, radiation safety or patient care too often is hired to do procedures that help doctors detect cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. The reason public outcry is not louder is that most patients have no idea they may be getting substandard care.”
The bill was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health in February last year. CARE bill cosponsors and supporters ask to “Show You CARE” by calling 800-444-2778, Ext. 1308.