On March 17, 2005, the Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence (CARE) bill was introduced in the United States House of Representatives as H.R. 1426. As this article goes to print, there are 72 cosponsors of this legislation—the highest number of cosponsors since the bill was first introduced into Congress in 2000. The list of sponsors can be found on the website of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) at www.asrt.org. The CARE bill will be introduced shortly in the United States Senate.

The CARE bill directs the United States Department of Health and Human Services 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 federal reimbursement for radiologic procedures.

This legislation is backed by the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy, a coalition of organizations that represents more than 300,000 health care professionals. The American Association of Medical Assistants is a charter member of the Alliance. The CARE bill also has support from a number of patient groups and other 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.

The AAMA needs your assistance. Please transmit a letter by e-mail, fax, or mail to your United States Representative (and Senators, once the bill is introduced in the Senate) urging these lawmakers to become cosponsors (or thanking them for already being cosponsors) of the CARE bill. A directory of members of Congress can be accessed at www.house.gov and www .senate.gov. You may use the following sample letter to assist you.

Sample letter to Congress

Concerned citizens are working to pass a federal law that would require states to set educational and certification standards for personnel performing medical imaging exams and providing radiation therapy treatments. Here is a sample letter you can send to your senator or representative to voice your support for quality patient care. Address your letters to:

Senator ___________ The Honorable _______________

United States Senate US House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20515

Dear Senator (Surname) or Dear Representative (Surname):

Most Americans take it for granted that the person taking their x-ray, performing their MRI scan or delivering their radiation therapy is a competent professional. The fact is, poorly trained individuals examine and treat patients in this country every day, because there are no mandated federal standards these employees must meet.

That’s why I am asking you to support an important piece of patient-care legislation. The Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence (CARE) bill would establish basic educational and credentialing standards for health care personnel who perform our nation’s medical imaging examinations and deliver radiation therapy procedures.

The CARE bill would amend the Consumer-Patient Radiation Health and Safety Act of 1981, which gave the states recommendations for licensing radiologic personnel. Because compliance with the 1981 Act was voluntary, only 35 states have enacted licensure laws, and many of those laws do not match the standards recommended by the federal government.

As a result, thousands of individuals with limited education are performing imaging and radiation therapy procedures on patients every day. Inadequately educated personnel pose a risk to patients, because an improperly performed procedure can lead to misdiagnosis or a delay in treatment.

Congress now has the opportunity to improve the quality of radiologic care by establishing competency standards for those who provide it. I urge you to voice your support for quality health care by voting in favor of the CARE bill.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this issue.

Updates about the CARE bill can be found on the ASRT website.

Questions? Contact Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA, at dbalasa@aama-ntl.org or 800/228-2262.