Radiology Digest – May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

Radiology Digest: News from the week of May 27, 2022.

HHS Scraps Trump-era SUNSET Rule that Mandated Regulatory Reviews
By Maya Goldman | May 26, 2022 | Included in Radiology Digest – May 27, 2022

The Health and Human Services Department has withdrawn a policy initiated under President Donald Trump that would have required extensive reviews of its regulations.

Under the SUNSET rule, nearly all HHS regulations would be scrutinized for economic impact and other factors after 10 years, and automatically eliminated if they were not reviewed within that time frame.

President Joe Biden’s administration formally canceled this policy in a rule issued Thursday. The SUNSET rule would have substantially altered HHS operations and had negative consequences for people affected by departmental regulations, HHS announced in a Federal Register notice.

“We now conclude that these significant repercussions were not adequately considered in issuing the SUNSET final rule in part because the process to promulgate the rule was extremely unusual,” the final rule says.

To read more, go to Modern Healthcare.

Radiology Salaries Edge Higher in Latest SalaryScan Numbers
By Brain Casey | May 25, 2022 | Included in Radiology Digest – May 27, 2022

Salaries for radiology professionals edged higher in 2021, as both radiologists and radiologic technologists (RTs) enjoyed rising incomes. The latest figures for‘s annual survey of benefits and compensation found that salaries for technologists, in particular, hit a milestone last year.

The average base annual salary for radiologic technologists in the U.S. cracked $80,000 for the first time in the history of SalaryScan, as RTs reported an average annual salary of $80,209 across all modalities. RTs who specialized in particular modalities saw even higher wages, with the exception of mammography technologists.

Meanwhile, salaries for radiologists continued to edge up compared with SalaryScan numbers released last year. In 2021, radiologists had an average annual base salary of $432,627, regardless of modality specialization. That compared to $421,776 in 2020 and $408,023 in 2019, which was the first year the base salary exceeded $400,000.

Among different modality specializations, radiologists who concentrated on CT were the highest-compensated, at $465,703, while MRI specialists reported an average base salary of $446,780. Nuclear medicine specialists brought up the rear with an average base salary of $410,571.

To read more, go to Aunt Minnie.

Physician Compensation Rebounded Slightly in 2021, Study Shows
By Ginger Christ | May 25, 2022 | Included in Radiology Digest – May 27, 2022

Compensation among most physician specialties increased slightly in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to new data from the Medical Group Management Association.

Compensation plateaued in 2020 as providers dealt with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and a decline in nonessential healthcare services. Those trends reversed for most specialists last year, the MGMA reports.

Surgical specialists, who saw the one of the largest pay declines in 2020, experienced a median 4% compensation increase that raised median income to $517,501 last year, the study found. Median primary care physician compensation rose 2% to $286,525 in 2021. Doctors coming out of residency had median earnings that were 7%-10% greater in 2021 than in the prior year, the data show.

Physician compensation varied widely by geography, the MGMA found. For example, the median primary care provider in Mississippi made $102,462 more than a counterpart in Arizona. and the median surgical specialist in Nevada earned $612,630 more than one in Idaho, the study found.

Physician compensation has steadily climbed for years and there eventually will be a breaking point, said Andy Swanson, the MGMA’s vice president of industry insights.

To read more, go to Modern Healthcare.

Insurers Estimate No Surprises Act Blocked 2M Bills in Two Months
By Lauren Berryman | May 24, 2022 | Included in Radiology Digest – May 27, 2022

The No Surprises Act shielded private health insurance enrollees from an estimated 2 million surprise bills during the first two months of the year, according to a report health insurance industry groups released Tuesday.

AHIP and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association surveyed more than 80 commercial health insurance companies, 31 of which responded. Those insurers represent 115 million commercial health plan members.

These companies reported receiving 600,000 claims covered by the surprise billing law in January and February. Based on claims experiences from prior years and factoring in processing delays this year, the insurance groups estimate that the true amount of such bills at 2 million.

AHIP and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association project the new rules could prevent more than 12 million surprise bills this year.

Before President Donald Trump enacted the No Surprises Act in 2020, two-thirds of adults reported feeling worried about whether they could afford surprise medical bills, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

The law, which took effect Jan. 1, aims to protects patients from unforeseen medical bills, including those issued by out-of-network health professionals working at in-network facilities. Regulations implementing the statute require independent dispute resolutions to resolve billing disputes between insurers and providers without patients needing to be involved.

Payers and providers have battled over the particulars of that process as each side seeks to defend its financial interests.

“The law is working to protect millions of consumers from costly surprise bills and yet several hospital and provider organizations have filed lawsuits challenging the [No Surprises Act] regulations and legislation in order to increase their own profits at patients’ expense,” the insurance groups’ report says.

To read more, go to Modern Healthcare.

VIDEO: Contrast Media Shortage Impacting Cardiac CT Imaging
By Dave Fornell | May 24, 2022 | Included in Radiology Digest – May 27, 2022

Eric Williamson, MD, MSCCT, the president of the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography (SCCT) and professor of radiology at Mayo Clinic, explains how the iodine contrast shortage is causing issues for cardiac CT imaging. He discusses ways imagers can stretch their iodine contrast supplies and some technologies to help conserve contrast.

He explained how hospitals are trying to reduce their usage of iodine contrast for CT imaging. This includes working with hospital pharmacies to break down large packaging into smaller vials or syringes to prevent waste. Williamson said less dose also can be used and CT system kVp can be reduced to help improve the iodine visualization on low contrast scans.

Williamson is also associate chair for radiology informatics at Mayo Clinic Rochester and supervises the radiology artificial intelligence program at Mayo. He is the former division chair of cardiovascular radiology and medical director of CT operations at Mayo Clinic. He serves as co-director of Mayo Clinic’s structural heart disease imaging lab.

To read more, go to Cardiovascular Business.

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