WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Congressman Rick Lazio, R-N.Y., on Sept. 25 introduced a legislative proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives designed to ensure that the nation's medical imaging and radiation therapy procedures are performed by qualified personnel. "Millions of Americans undergo x-ray examinations, CT scans, MRI scans and other diagnostic imaging tests every year," said Rep. Lazio. "This bill will help ensure that these examinations meet a high standard of quality." Rep. Lazio's bill, titled the Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence (CARE) Act, calls on the federal government 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 Act is designed to amend the Consumer-Patient Radiation Health and Safety Act of 1981. The 1981 law 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 and sometimes after only a few weeks of on-the-job training. "The lack of uniform standards nationwide for operators of medical imaging and radiation therapy equipment poses a hazard to the patient and jeopardizes quality health care," said Rep. Lazio. "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. Lazio, passage of the CARE Act will improve the overall quality of American health care. "It will help ensure that quality diagnostic information is presented for interpretation and that accurate radiation therapy treatments are delivered, leading to timely diagnosis, treatment and cure," he said. "Seven out of 10 Americans undergo some type of medical imaging exam or radiation therapy treatment annually," added Rep. Lazio. "This legislation will mean improved care for patients -- fewer retakes, higher quality images and less exposure to radiation." The CARE Act is backed by the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy, a coalition of 12 radiologic science organizations that represents more than 200,000 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. "Most Americans assume that the person taking their x-ray, performing their CT scan or delivering their radiation therapy is a qualified professional," said Michael DelVecchio, president of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, a membership organization that represents more than 86,000 medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals nationwide. "The fact is, poorly trained individuals examine and treat thousands of patients in this country every day. The CARE Act will ensure that patients will no longer have to wonder about the qualifications of people performing radiologic examinations." DuVonne Campbell, ASRT Director of Government Relations, said the bill's Sept. 25 introduction "represents thousands of hours of effort by people who are concerned about improving the quality of patient care." However, she noted that much work still lies ahead for supporters of the CARE Act. "Because the bill was introduced so late in the Congressional session, we do not expect substantive action to be taken on it this year," she explained. "The bill will have to be reintroduced when Congress reconvenes in January. In preparation for its reintroduction, we are working to gain support for a companion bill in the Senate." Rep. Lazio was joined in introducing the bill into the House of Representatives by a bipartisan group of 17 House cosponsors: Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Tenn.; Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill.; Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich.; Rep. John Larson, D-Conn.; Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa; Rep. William Lipinski, D-Ill.; Rep. James Maloney, D-Conn.; Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y.; Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif.; Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-W.V.; Rep. Connie Morella, R-Md.; Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa.; Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn.; Rep. John Olver, D-Mass.; Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.V.; Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.; and Rep. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
SOURCE American Society of Radiologic Technologists