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ADVANCE Discourse: Lab

Few Lab Managers Aware of Three Proposals to Cut Lab Test Funds

Published November 1, 2011 7:21 AM by Jill Hoffman
Clinical laboratory leaders are keeping their eye on Congress in advance of potential significant reductions in federal funding for medical laboratory tests in the 2012 federal budget. But while many lab industry associations have alerted members to potential cuts, a recent Dark Daily enewsletter reports that few clinical lab managers and pathologists know there are at least three separate proposals to reduce funding.

The three proposals include the following:

  • A congressional supercommittee may trim Medicare Part B Laboratory Test spending by as much as $16 billion in 10 years.
  • The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommended in September that clinical lab test fees be cut by up to $21 billion in the next 10 years, shifting money away from lab test reimbursement to make up the shortfall in physician fees under the Medical Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.
  • Reinstituting patient co-pay/co-insurance requirements for Medicare Part B Medical Laboratory Testing is on the table and projected to produce savings of $16 billion over the first 10 years of its implementation.

Field luminaries say the MedPAC proposal would be financially devastating to clinical labs since medical lab testing industry has seen a 40% decline in reimbursement (when adjusted for inflation) over the past 40 years.

Alan Mertz, president of the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), and Peter Kazon, senior counsel in the Washington, D.C., office of Alston & Bird, are in active conversations with federal legislators. Individuals in the clinical lab field are being urged to contact members of Congress to voice opposition to these proposals. The ACLA's website enables users to easily email letters to associated legislators.

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