Big Cuts in Reimbursement for Medicare Lab Tests will Hurt Patients, says ACLA


Cumulative cuts from recently enacted legislation total 23% over next 10 years

Washington, DC — Recently enacted budget cuts that would slash Medicare reimbursement for clinical laboratory tests by 23% over the next 10 years threaten the ability of clinical labs to serve Medicare patients, according to a letter that the American Clinical Laboratory Association sent today to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The letter asks Congress to revisit the cuts and provide relief.

The cuts in lab reimbursement come from three separate pieces of legislation – the health reform law passed in 2010, the anticipated sequestration reductions required by the 2011 deficit-reduction law, and, most recently, the decision to extend the delay in the SGR-driven physician payment cuts through the end of 2012.

The SGR decision alone will reduce laboratory fees for Medicare services by $2.7 billion over 10 years, said ACLA. “While ACLA recognizes the difficult choices that Congress must make in the current budgetary environment, we believe that asking clinical laboratories to bear such a disproportionate share of the cost of temporarily addressing the SGR issue is particularly unfair, in light of the stark differences between historical updates to payments for clinical laboratories when compared to other providers.”

The letter pointed out that the cumulative growth in Medicare provider payment updates from 1995–2011 was 51.4% for inpatient hospital care, 35.6% for hospital outpatient care, and 27.9% for physician services, but that the comparable increase for clinical laboratories reimbursement over the period was only 7.7%.

ACLA stressed in the letter that the most devastating impact of such cuts would be on thousands of smaller clinical laboratories across the US. “Indeed, the smallest laboratories—those most likely to face enormous financial strain as a result of the cuts—are often the sole provider of laboratory services to Medicare’s most vulnerable beneficiaries in nursing homes and other similar settings.”

The full ACLA letter is pasted below and is available at

The American Clinical Laboratory Association represents the leading national, regional, esoteric pathology, and end stage renal disease clinical laboratories.

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