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  • APTA Statement: GAO Report a 'Huge Step Forward' in Exposing Abuse in Self-referral

    "APTA stands for fair and honest practice in health care and appreciates the work and findings of a recent report produced by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO)," says APTA President Paul Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS, in a statement on the "shocking" rates of self-referred imaging services compared with non-self-referred services.

    The report, which was released last week and reported on in News Now, found that self-referred magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services increased by approximately 84% from 2004 to 2010, whereas non-self-referred MRI services only increased by roughly 12%. For computed tomography (CT) over the same time period, the number of services performed by self-referrers increased by approximately 107%, in contrast to an increase of roughly 30% by non-self-referrers.

    Also of significance is the finding that providers who began self-referring in 2009, known as "switchers," increased MRI and CT referrals by an average of 67% in 2010. The GAO concluded that "financial incentives for self-referring providers were likely a major factor driving the increase in referrals."  

    "The GAO report, the first of a series that will scrutinize the use of the IAOS exception and self-referral, including in physical therapy, clearly shows that such practices only serve to exponentially increase spending and, more important, raise risks to beneficiaries," says Rockar.

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