In This Issue...

Rep. Roe Introduces Bill to Repeal IPAB

AACC has endorsed Representative Phil Roe’s legislation, H.R.351, the “Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act,” which eliminates the Independent Payment Advisory Board created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. Specifically, H.R.351 would eliminate sections 3403 and 10320 of ACA that define the IPAB Board and its responsibilities, outline its membership, and establish a process for making ongoing payment modifications and cuts. ACA stipulates that the IPAB recommended Medicare reimbursement cuts take effect if certain health care spending limits are exceeded. Congress can forestall these reductions by enacting a separate but equal package of spending cuts.

The Association is concerned that the IPAB will be making policy decisions with far-reaching ramifications for our health care system without congressional or public input. AACC believes that any deliberations involving payment system changes should be transparent and open to stakeholder participation. The IPAB does not provide for such a process. The Association urges Congress to repeal the IPAB and allow future payment modifications to be made through the existing legislative process. A copy of the bill is available on the congressional Web site, THOMAS.

Congress Extends Debt Limit

On January 31st, the Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing legislation that would suspend the federal debt limit until May, thereby giving legislators more time to resolve the debt crisis. The 64-34 bipartisan vote gives Congress additional time to work out a deal that avoids the $1.2 trillion in cuts required under sequestration. If these cuts take effect, clinical laboratory payments will be subject to a two percent reduction. GAU will continue to report on new budgetary developments as they occur.

Senator Hatch Proposes Medicare/Medicaid Changes to Reduce Debt

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) recently released a plan to reform Medicare and Medicaid as a means of reducing the national debt. The Senator is proposing a number of policy options, such as:

  • raising the Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67;
  • increasing the costs of the Medigap insurance plans;
  • capping annual payouts for Medicaid recipients;
  • establishing an annual, uniform co-payment for all services; and
  • adopting competitive bidding to increase competition and curtail health care spending.

The latter two provisions could affect clinical laboratories. AACC is opposed to both measures. If you would like a copy of the entire plan, please go to the Senator's Web site.

Kaiser Foundation Identifies Potential Lab Cuts

In January, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a compendium document, “Policy Options to Sustain Medicare for the Future” that outlines potential Medicare and Medicaid cuts to reduce the federal deficit. The more than 200 page document includes four recommendations affecting clinical laboratories, such as:

  • establishing a 20 percent copayment for laboratory services;
  • freezing Medicate payment rates for one year;
  • reducing payments for laboratory testing; and
  • expanding use of competitive bidding.

Congress will be considering these and other policy options over the next few months as it seeks to curtail federal spending. A copy of the complete report is on the Kaiser Family Web page.

Upcoming AACC program: February 27, 2013
Determining Pediatric Reference Ranges: Traditional and New Approaches to a Challenging Issue

Each day, laboratory professionals perform thousands of tests on children ranging from newborns to teenagers. While there are many well-established reference intervals for the results of tests performed on adults, this is not the case for children. Their bodies are constantly growing and changing. These variations make it difficult for laboratories to establish accurate reference intervals for the 76 million children in the United States. Join us for a 90-minute webinar and learn tips from our experts on how you can meet the challenges involved in establishing meaningful reference intervals for tests performed in the pediatric setting.