President’s Budget Proposal Could Decrease Access to Lab Tests Vital to Patient Care
The following statement is attributable to AACC CEO Janet B. Kreizman:
“Healthcare professionals routinely use laboratory tests to diagnose, treat, and monitor health conditions ranging from high cholesterol and diabetes to cardiac disease and AIDS. The President’s FY 2015 budget proposal, if implemented, could adversely affect patient access to these vital services while reducing the overall quality of testing.
Laboratory tests play a key role in most clinical decisions, yet account for only 1.6 percent of the overall Medicare budget. Unfortunately, policymakers have repeatedly cut reimbursement for laboratory services in recent years. The cumulative effect of payment reductions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—and subsequent cuts resulting from the 2012 sustainable growth rate extension legislation—will reduce laboratory payments by more than 20 percent over the next decade. Additionally, sequestration cut laboratory payments another 2 percent in 2013. These cuts are putting a serious financial strain on many clinical laboratories.
The President’s budget proposes yet more cuts to laboratory reimbursement. The proposed budget would extend a provision from the 2010 ACA statute (set to expire in 2015), which reduces the consumer price index for clinical laboratory services by 1.75 percent annually. The President’s proposal would extend this provision through 2023, further reducing laboratory payments by another $7.9 billion over 10 years.
These reductions could have a significant impact on patient health by hindering the development and implementation of new technologies, reducing the number of laboratories serving underserved populations, decreasing patient access to such vital tests as hepatitis C and cancer screenings, and diminishing the quality of testing.
We strongly encourage Congress to preserve patient access to quality laboratory testing by opposing these additional cuts to laboratory payments.”