By Carlos Vasquez, RT(R), CRA, FAHRA, FACHE
January 2013—For me, the beginning of the year has always been a time to reflect on the preceding year and to look ahead with excitement and great anticipation to the opportunities the new year will undoubtedly bring. This year I must admit that while I joyfully reflected on the milestone achievements of AHRA in 2012, it was challenging to get excited for 2013, as much of my anticipation has been overcast by the unknown impact of healthcare reform on medical imaging. I expect 2013 to be a year of transformation and restructuring in our profession and industry, where we will be expected to take risks, push quality boundaries to new heights, and implement models of operational efficiency to eliminate waste and redundancy.
I am not a fan of the philosophical concept of “good news, bad news.” I like facts and truth; therefore, any time I have been confronted with “I have good news and bad news,” I usually ask for the bad news only, as typically the good news is a missed opportunity or a lost battle. This brings me to the new reality the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has realized at the start of 2013. Five of the eighteen separate tax increases in the Act went into effect on January 1:
- A new excise tax of 2.3% on the sales of medical device manufacturers and importers.
- An increase in the Hospital Insurance (HI) portion of the payroll tax and the application of the tax to investment income.
- A reduction of the income tax deduction for medical expenses.
- An elimination of the corporate income tax deduction for expenses related to the Medicare Part D subsidy.
- A limitation of the corporate income tax deduction for compensation that health insurance companies pay to their executives.
All five of these taxes will have painful implications in the healthcare industry, but the most harmful and the ones to watch are the 2.3% tax on the sales of medical devices and the increase in the HI portion of the payroll tax. At this time it’s unknown whether OEMs will pass this 2.3% sales tax on to buyers/consumers or if it will be absorbed as an added business expense. Either way we are bound to see higher prices for medical equipment, and we will be challenged to find solutions to mitigate this added expense. I invite you to stay up to date with regulatory news by visiting AHRA’s Regulatory News resource, which is dedicated to keeping you informed of all regulatory happenings impacting medical imaging.
The AHRA 2013 calendar is full of continuing education opportunities. We are kicking off the year with a few local area meetings, and our flagship Coding and Reimbursement Seminar is going virtual. It is scheduled for January 29 and 30 with live interaction throughout the presentation.
The 2013 Spring Conference is coming to the Millennium Biltmore in Los Angeles by popular demand from our west coast members. The Design Team is being chaired by Art Tasaka, who has worked diligently with the rest of his team to assemble an impressive and relevant program. I look forward to seeing many of you in Los Angeles from April 9-11.
I hope 2013 is a fruitful year for each one of you professionally. There will be transformational challenges different than anything we have seen in the past. Know that you’re not alone. We all have the same symptoms and will be diagnosed with same pain and suffering, but we can control the prognosis by counting on the great AHRA network and using all the resources available to us as members.
Carlos Vasquez, RT(R), CRA, FAHRA, FACHE is president of the 2012-2013 AHRA Board of Directors. He is the division director of radiology services at Franciscan-St. Elizabeth Health in Lafayette, IN and can be reached at Carlos.firstname.lastname@example.org.