WASHINGTON, D.C.— In a new letter to Congressional leadership, more than 33 stakeholder groups are urging lawmakers to pass commonsense, bipartisan reforms that would take steps to mitigate the ongoing harm facing more than 53 million seniors who depend on vital clinical laboratory services.
The letter reinforces the urgent need for Congress to immediately advance H.R. 3584 – The Laboratory Access for Beneficiaries (LAB) Act, which would suspend data reporting until 2021 to allow a more representative share of labs to report private market data.
The LAB Act, introduced by Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and Rep. George Holding (R-NC) – now with 58 bipartisan cosponsors – would also commission a study by the National Academy of Medicine to provide recommendations on how to implement a less burdensome data collection process. The report would outline how best to achieve an appropriate rate-setting methodology that is representative of the market and ensures sustainable patient access.
Under the 2014 Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA), Congress directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to establish market-based rates for clinical laboratory tests to ensure that millions of seniors could maintain access to vital health services. However, CMS disregarded congressional intent, and collected payment data from less than one percent of the nation’s laboratories to set Medicare reimbursement rates. This action has resulted in staggering cuts to routine tests that seniors use to manage diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and countless other chronic conditions.
Year-over-year cuts to Medicare lab services represent a real and urgent threat for millions of seniors with a new round of cuts – informed by a faulty data set – slated for implementation January 1, 2020. If Congress fails to pass the LAB Act and delay the upcoming data reporting period (January 1 – March 31, 2020), the rates implemented January 2021 will be based on unrepresentative data, further endangering seniors’ health.
As the signers note, “Our number one priority is protecting patients and ensuring they can access the care they need. Congress must take action and include the LAB Act in an end-of-the-year legislative package before unrepresentative market data further threatens patient health.”
To view the full letter, click here.