FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: DECEMBER 21, 2010
Contact: JoAnne Glisson
American Clinical Laboratory Association
CMS DELAYS ENFORCEMENT OF MEDICARE PHYSICIAN SIGNATURE REQUIREMENT THREE MONTHS; ACLA VOWS TO WORK WITH CMS TOWARD WORKABLE ALTERNATIVES TO REQUIREMENT TO AVOID DISRUPTION OF PATIENT ACCESS TO LABORATORY SERVICES
Washington DC – The American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) appreciates the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) delaying enforcement of the physician signature requirement for three months as implementation on January 1, 2011 would have resulted in a crisis in access to laboratory services for the nation’s seniors. ACLA maintains that the policy is unworkable, and is committed to working with CMS on to examine feasible alternative approaches to meet CMS’ objective of ensuring that laboratory requisitions are appropriately documented.
A rule adopted by CMS in 2000 established the policy that there are alternatives to physicians signing laboratory requisitions. This policy was reiterated in numerous communications from CMS as recently as March 2010. In a surprising turnabout in this policy, the 2011 proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Rule, released in July 2010, required a physician signature on all requisition forms reimbursed under the Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule. In spite of comments from all stakeholders – including laboratories, hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and others — opposing this requirement in the proposed rule, the final rule contained the same requirement. CMS announced the delay in a website posting today www.cms.gov/ClinicalLabFeeSched.
“We welcome this opportunity to continue to engage with CMS on the physician signature requirement in the coming months,” stated ACLA President Alan Mertz. “Immediate implementation of the requirement would have had disastrous consequences for patients and providers. The delay provides an essential opportunity to work with CMS on a plausible alternative policy that addresses CMS’ goals while avoiding severe disruption in providing critically important laboratory services for Medicare beneficiaries.”