To the Editor:

The week of November 11th, I joined 50 patient advocates from across the country to call on Congress to reject harmful policy proposals that would restrict patient access to lifesaving medical imaging technologies and radiation therapy services.

I am fortunate to be a threeyear survivor of colon cancer. However since I was only 46 years old when I had colon cancer, it was determined that I should have genetic testing done to see if I had a predisposition to cancer. In July 2011, I found out that I have Lynch Syndrome. Medical imaging was critical not only to the early detection of my disease, but also to helping my doctor monitor its progression and guide my course of treatment. Regular imaging is critical for Lynch Syndrome. People with Lynch Syndrome have an 85% chance of getting colon cancer as well as several other cancers such as pancreatic, endometrial, ovarian, brain, skin, breast, urinary tract, gastric, and small bowel most of which can be detected through medical imaging. I know it is not “if” my cancer comes back but rather “when”. Living with Lynch Syndrome is my “new life” as well as that of my children so regular screenings are critical.

And yet, despite the demonstrated value of medical imaging technologies – which have proven vital to the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancers and other deadly diseases that touch millions of Americans – policymakers have slashed Medicare reimbursements for medical imaging and radiation therapy technologies 13 times since 2006. It is critical that Members of Congress reject additional reimbursement cuts, support Medicare coverage decisions that facilitate access to appropriate medical imaging and oppose the use of burdensome, nontransparent obstacles to appropriate scans, such as radiology benefits managers (RBMs) in Medicare.

As policymakers look for solutions to reduce our deficit, I hope they keep in mind the many patients like me who are alive today thanks to medical imaging. Congress must work with patients and physicians to implement thoughtful imaging policies that promote patient access to the right scan and the right therapy at the right time.

Patients are already in the fight of their lives; let’s not make the fight harder by making it more difficult for patients to access these critical services.

May Steinhardt

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