I strongly support legislation to increase screening for osteoporosis, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins and co-sponsored by Sen. Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree. In a commentary last week (Sept. 24), Ann L. Elderkin and Dr. Clifford J. Rosen argue that we are at a critical junction in the future of our bone health, and if we don’t encourage Congress to act now, it could spell disaster for the future of osteoporosis care in Maine – and our country.

As a physician and osteoporosis care advocate, I see patients every day for whom screening might have prevented a serious decline in quality of life caused by fracture. In older patients, osteoporotic fractures cause pain, deformity, loss of independence and more. That’s why I support the efforts of our leaders to help more Mainers access diagnostic testing for this undertreated condition.

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry screening can help prevent bone breaks by identifying bone disease and connecting patients to treatments to improve bone strength and prevent fractures. DXA thereby reduces unnecessary medical complications and costs.

Unfortunately, many centers have stopped performing DXA testing in Maine because they can’t break even at current insurance reimbursement rates. I work at one of only 20 remaining DXA screening centers in Maine – down from 80 not long ago – which will continue to be at risk if we don’t increase reimbursement for this critical test.

More Congress members need to support increased reimbursement for DXA screening. It will likely save the health system billions of dollars, and, more importantly, reduce fractures and save lives.

Emily Demetriou, M.D.

Maine Medical Partners Endocrinology and Diabetes

Scarborough

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