July 21, 2021
On July 16, Congressmen Scott Peters (D-CA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Neal Dunn (R-FL) and Greg Murphy (R-NC) introduced the Facilitating Innovative Nuclear Diagnostics (FIND) Act of 2021 (H.R. 4479), legislation that would significantly expand patient access to advanced nuclear diagnostic imaging technologies. The bill, formerly H.R. 3772, aims for a legislative fix to CMS's bundling of diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals in the hospital outpatient space after a 3-year pass-through period post-FDA approval.
SNMMI and its coalition partners, the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) and the Council on Radionuclides and Radiopharmaceuticals (CORAR)—in additional to dozens of patient advocacy organizations—applauded the introduction. "Innovative radiopharmaceuticals are revolutionizing the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of diseases, but under current CMS payment policies, these remarkable agents often are not available to Medicare beneficiaries, resulting in inequities in healthcare. The FIND act addresses this current important problem and will improve access to these life-saving imaging agents," stated Richard Wahl, MD, president of SNMMI.
The FIND Act addresses structural issues in the packaging methodology used in the Medicare outpatient setting by directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to pay separately for all diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals with a cost threshold per day of $500. If passed, this bill would give patients greater access to a wide range of diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals that can better detect conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease, breast and prostate cancer, and neuroendocrine tumors. This legislation would also help providers better manage costs while delivering more targeted and cost-efficient care.
“In San Diego and across the country, health care innovation has allowed doctors to diagnose, monitor, and treat some of the most aggressive and least understood diseases. Expanding access and affordability to these resources is critical,” said Rep. Peters. “Our bill will provide doctors with radiopharmaceutical diagnostic tools to help their patients find the answers they need to effectively and efficiently treat their illnesses.”
“We cannot tolerate a two-tiered health care system — one for the rich, and one for everyone else. Unfortunately, many low-income and minority patients are being denied access to the most efficient tests, therapies, and care due to the current payment structure for diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals that makes it nearly impossible for many hospitals serving our most vulnerable populations to offer these life-saving diagnostics. The FIND Act is important legislation to help fix this disparity,” said Rep. Rush. “Alzheimer’s disease, prostate cancer, and other life-altering conditions have a disproportionate impact on Black Americans and other minority communities. Ensuring that the best diagnostic tools are available to identify these diseases in patients earlier, when they are the most treatable, is essential.”
“America leads the world in medical research and innovation – but far too often, patients are unable to access the benefits of innovative medical technologies because of outdated Medicare reimbursement policy,” added Rep. Dunn. “The FIND Act is a common-sense, bipartisan proposal to address these current reimbursement problems, giving patients access to the diagnostic tools they need, when they need them. Early detection saves lives and we must do what we can to expand access to these life-saving tools.”
“Passage of the FIND Act will give patients and their physicians the tools they need to diagnose life-threatening diseases sooner- when they are most treatable,” said Rep. Murphy. “Already, we’ve seen that nuclear medicine has the potential to play a larger role in diagnosing advanced disease, including prostate and breast cancer. By finding and confirming these diseases earlier we can not only reduce downstream costs but more importantly, save lives.”
For more information on the FIND Act, please click here.