ACLA Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan Bill to Protect Seniors’ Access to Critical Diagnostic Tests
Washington, D.C. – The American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) today welcomed the bipartisan introduction of the Saving Access to Laboratory Services Act (SALSA) to ensure America’s seniors maintain access to lifesaving clinical laboratory tests and services in the face of pending Medicare cuts next year.
The bill, introduced by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Richard Burr (R-NC), along with Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Scott Peters (D-CA), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR), seeks to address the consequences of the flawed implementation of the 2014 Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA), which has led to significant cuts to payments for routine laboratory tests that guide clinical decision-making.
“Over the past several years, we have achieved strong bipartisan and bicameral support to delay these anticipated cuts, but it is time to permanently fix this problem. Medicare cuts to clinical laboratories could reduce access to essential testing for all patients, stifle innovation, and weaken the laboratory infrastructure, which is essential for emergency resonse. Seniors and all patients need to know if they are at risk for certain cancers, if their diabetes is under control, or if their heart medication is working. Now is the time to set laboratories on a sustainable path once and for all,” said Susan Van Meter, ACLA President.
At the time PAMA was enacted, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected $2.5 billion in cuts to reimbursement rates over 10 years if PAMA was implemented as Congress intended. However, PAMA has already led to nearly $4 billion in cuts to laboratories since 2018 (after only three years of cuts).
Absent congressional intervention, more than 800 tests will receive up to 15 percent cuts on January 1, 2023. Collectively, these cuts may threaten access to laboratory services for diagnosing and treating seniors with a wide range of conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, prostate and colon cancers, anemia, infections, and opioid dependency, among others. Additionally, these cuts would come as clinical laboratories across the country face continued inflationary pressure on costs, labor, and supply shortages, as well as the ongoing demands of the pandemic.
“ACLA is grateful for Sens. Brown and Burr and Reps. Pascrell, Peters, Hudson, Bilirakis, and Schrader for introducing the Saving Access to Laboratory Services Act, and for fighting for our seniors’ access to clinical laboratory services and keeping the clinical laboratory infrastructure healthy,” said Van Meter. “Congress must act to permanently end these senseless cuts. Patients and their health care providers depend on accessible, high quality laboratory testing to prevent, diagnose, and manage illness. They are counting on Congress to act.”
Click here to learn more about how America’s more than 56 million seniors could be impacted by cuts to laboratory services.
The American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) is the national trade association representing leading laboratories that deliver essential diagnostic health information to patients and providers. ACLA members are at the forefront of driving diagnostic innovation to meet the country’s evolving health care needs and provide vital clinical laboratory tests that identify and prevent infectious, acute and chronic disease. ACLA works to advance the next generation of health care delivery through policies that expand access to lifesaving testing services.