Imaging Policy & Legislation

The MARCA Divide

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The American College of Radiology might have a neutral stance on the Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act (MARCA), but a new survey confirmed that most ACR members are far from neutral about non-physicians’ role in radiology. 

MARCA Madness – MARCA would require Medicare to reimburse supervising radiologists for imaging services performed by radiologist assistants, as long as RAs work within physician-led teams. The ACR revealed its neutral position on MARCA in August, enraging some members who are concerned that MARCA will undermine radiologists’ role, and accused the ACR of selling out to PE. 

The Opinion Divide – The ACR survey (n = 4,207, or 16% of members) revealed overwhelming opposition to MARCA, but more balanced views on working with non-physician radiology providers (NPRPs). By NPRPs, they mean radiology assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants.

  • 60% are against MARCA (vs. 19% in favor, 21% neutral)
  • 86% are concerned about NPRP scope creep
  • 55% view NPRPs as a threat to patient care
  • However, just 43% are against using NPRPs in their practice
  • And 62% believe it’s up to practices whether they employ NPRPs

Behind the Divide – A deeper look into the ACR’s (very detailed) survey results revealed that members’ MARCA and NPRP opinions seem largely influenced by their professional situation. 

Career Stage

  • 80% of residents/fellows and 65% of early-career rads view NPRPs as a threat to patient care 
  • 51% of mid-career rads and 41% of late-career rads view NPRPs as a threat to patient care

Practice Type

  • 61% of respondents from academic settings view NPRPs as a threat to patient care
  • 69% of respondents from national and private practices think NPRP use is a practice decision 

Practice Role

  • 61% of non-leaders view NPRPs as a threat to patient care
  • 65% of practices leaders view NPRPs use as a practice decision

NPRP Experience

  • 69% of respondents who do not work with NPRPs view them as a threat to patient care
  • 57% of respondents who work with NPRPs believe they play an important role
  • 84% of respondents who support MARCA currently work with NPRPs

The Takeaway – We now have data confirming what most of you already knew: the majority of radiologists are firmly against MARCA and a small minority support it. However, the data also shows that plenty of radiologists see value in NPRPs, especially if they already work with non-physicians and if their careers are less threatened by them. What’s still unclear is what it will take for the ACR to break its neutrality on MARCA (in either direction).

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-- The Imaging Wire team