With Congress on its third financial relief package, policymakers fail to recognize critical role of labs
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As policymakers close in on a third financial relief package, ACLA President Julie Khani issued the following statement:
“We are on the cusp of the U.S. Congress finalizing a third legislative financial relief package to address the coronavirus response. It is disappointing and alarming that Congress has not yet recognized the contributions of the lab industry and its response during this public health crisis. None of these packages to date contain a single provision to designate resources and support to the commercial laboratories who have stepped up to provide critical testing for health care workers, emergency responders, patients at high risk, and others in need. In a matter of weeks, ACLA laboratories went from a standing start to performing more than 50,000 COVID-19 tests a day. Collectively, these labs have completed over 234,000 tests to date, and nearly quadrupled our daily test capacity over the past week.
Laboratories perform testing first, and worry about being paid later. They are still waiting for reimbursement for tests performed. In many cases, labs are receiving specimens with incomplete or no insurance information, and are burdened with absorbing the cost. This isn’t theoretical. This is happening at drive thru sites across the country. The strain on laboratories is also coming at a time when the industry has endured year-over-year cuts to Medicare reimbursement to common lab tests.
Laboratories have not received the necessary support from the federal government as they extend significant resources to expand capacity, such as purchasing equipment, personal protective gear and testing supplies. If the urgent funding and supply challenges aren’t resolved now, America’s commercial laboratories could be forced to retrench rather than keep building the capacity that is needed. We implore Congress to recognize the critical role that labs have played on the front lines since day one, and be the partner we need as we support our nation’s response to this public health crisis.”
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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.