October 31, 2012 — It’s estimated that in 2010, providers who self-referred patients for advanced imaging made about 400,000 more referrals than they would have had they not had a financial interest in the imaging equipment and that these referrals cost the Medicare system an additional $109 million, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

The report was requested by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman and Pete Stark of California and Sander Levin of Michigan. In a joint news release, Baucus called the findings “eye opening,” while Grassley noted that “Medicare payment policy shouldn’t incentivize unnecessary tests that drive up costs” and possibly jeopardize patients.

To read report highlights, visit

http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-966.