WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the release the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act this evening, ACLA President Julie Khani released the following statement:
“For the third time, Congress has failed to provide the necessary funds to support ‘free testing’ for all Americans. Our members remain in an untenable situation, absorbing growing, uncompensated costs for testing specimens with no assurance that they will be appropriately or fairly reimbursed for all the tests they are performing.
This emergency requires the full force of laboratories nationwide, and Americans are counting on us to deliver. As labs continue to extend tremendous resources to rapidly expand testing capacity, the most immediate action we can all take is to prioritize who gets tested. ACLA greatly appreciates efforts this week by the federal government and several states to reinforce clear guidelines and provide new guidance to ensure that testing is performed where and for whom it is most needed. It is essential that doctors order COVID-19 tests in accordance with recommendations from the CDC, HHS and local health authorities, and that hospitals adhere to guidelines when identifying the samples to be prioritized.
In a moment when labs have been asked to make unprecedented investments to meet surge capacity, we were encouraged to see the inclusion of one particular provision in this bill. Over the past several years, labs have sustained significant year-over-year cuts to Medicare reimbursement for common lab tests, which will average about 30% when fully implemented. As part of this third stimulus package, most Medicare lab rates will freeze for one year—an important step for seniors and our most vulnerable patients who rely on vital, routine tests for their health.
Our ability to make headway against this pandemic hinges on the availability of testing. If Congress fails to designate essential emergency funding for clinical laboratories to support our efforts, labs will be soon be forced to make difficult decisions about whether they can keep building the capacity our nation needs.”
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ACLA is a not-for-profit association representing the nation’s leading clinical and anatomic pathology laboratories, including national, regional, specialty, hospital, ESRD and nursing home laboratories. The clinical laboratory industry employs nearly 295,000 people directly, and generates over 117,000 additional jobs in supplier industries. Clinical laboratories are at the forefront of personalized medicine, driving diagnostic innovation and contributing more than $106 billion to the nation’s economy.