Washington, D.C. – Following the release of today’s report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding laboratory data collection under The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA), Julie Khani, President of the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), released the following statement:
“Today’s OIG report skirts the central issue: that HHS deliberately chose to ignore Congressional intent in its implementation of PAMA – cherry-picking data from fewer than 1% of labs. Any analysis by OIG that fails to recognize that fact does a disservice to Congress and to the millions of seniors who depend on access to lab testing through Medicare.”
“The draconian cuts imposed by HHS – that have only begun to go into effect in 2018 – put access for millions of seniors at risk. Particularly hard hit will be the most vulnerable seniors, such as those in rural areas, those who require home care, or those in skilled nursing facilities.”
“As OIG acknowledged, “Complete and accurate data are essential to setting payment rates for lab tests, and CMS should address challenges from 2017 to ensure data quality in the future.” Unfortunately, OIG and HHS are working within a failed framework. Improving the methodology of collecting data from fewer than 1% of labs does little to improve overall data quality.”
“Congress needs to intervene and direct HHS to follow Congressional intent, gather data that is truly reflective of the market, and protect millions of seniors from draconian cuts to their Medicare benefits.”
Last year, ACLA filed a lawsuit against HHS – ACLA v. Azar – for failing to follow a congressional directive to implement a market-based laboratory payment system. For more on the impact of PAMA, click here.
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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 277,000 people directly and generates over 115,000 additional jobs in supplier industries. Clinical laboratories are at the forefront of personalized medicine, driving diagnostic innovation and contributing more than $100 billion to the nation’s economy.