|Medtech Issues in the 2012 Election Year|
A deal reached today in Congress to extend the payroll tax cut until 2013 managed to avoid payment cuts to physicians but will result in reduced Medicare payments to clinical laboratories. The legislation will slash 2% from the Medicare Part B Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule beginning in next year.
AdvaMedDx, a division of AdvaMed focused on advocating for manufacturers of medical diagnostic tests, had earlier this week urged Congress to reject such a measure. In a statement issued February 15 AdvaMedDx executive director Andrew Fish lamented cuts to the CLFS is already facing.
"While less than 2 percent of all Medicare spending, clinical laboratory testing has been subject to freezes in payments and significant cuts over the last two decades," Fish said in the statement. "Medicare payment amounts for clinical laboratory services have been reduced by about 40 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) terms over the past 20 years."
The same day, the Clinical Laboratory Coalition, whose members include AdvaMedDX, the American Clinical Laboratory Association, and comapanies such as Siemens DX, Roche Diagnostics Corp., and Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, sent a letter to Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), one of the lawmakers who helped broker the payroll tax deal, urging him to oppose cuts to the CLFS.
"Further reductions to the fee schedule that was just significantly cut durng health reform, will threaten these businesses, negatively affecting our workforce and our abilty to serve the Medicare population," the coalition wrote in the letter. "Cuts on laboratory services will not only threaten seniors' access to tests needed for physicians to manage chronic health conditions, it will also threaten the viability of hundreds of community and regional laboratories across the United States."