Many family physicians and their patients rely on office-based labs for the diagnosis of acute illnesses and management of chronic diseases. That's why the AAFP has fought hard to curb the negative impacts of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) of 2014.
CMS began implementing new PAMA payment rates under the clinical laboratory fee schedule on Jan. 1, 2018, and those revisions are estimated to reduce payment for clinical diagnostic lab tests by $670 million in 2018 alone.
In a series of letters to CMS, the AAFP has argued(2 page PDF) that three years of across-the-board cuts -- that's 10 percent each year through 2020 -- likely will close down a good many office-based labs that are critical to physicians' ability to provide high-quality patient care.
Now it's time for physicians to make their voices heard.
As part of a physician coalition working with COLA,(www.cola.org) an independent, nonprofit laboratory accrediting organization, the AAFP is urging family physicians to complete a short survey(www.nearpatienttestingmatters.org) to document how the PAMA-induced cuts have affected their practices.
The deadline for the easy, eight-question survey is Aug. 31.
The goal is to persuade Congress to fix PAMA so that in-office labs can afford to stay open and patients can continue to benefit from point-of-care testing services.
As COLA noted, "Your responses will be included in the aggregate data, and no information shared with us will be uniquely identifiable to any one respondent."
Part of the survey asks physicians how the 10 percent rate cuts in 2018 have affected lab services to their patients. And, recognizing the powerful impact of patient stories, physicians are encouraged to relay applicable accounts of how a point-of-care lab test saved a life or positively impacted a patient's care.
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