Hundreds of lab codes are expected to see reduced payments under a planned Medicare fee schedule change that will take effect January 1, 2018.
The changes are a provision of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) of 2014, which requires labs performing clinical diagnostic lab tests to report the amounts paid by private insurers for lab tests. This means that Medicare will use private insurer rates to calculate Medicare payment rates for lab tests paid under the Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS) beginning January 1, 2018.
According to “Part B News,” the rate changes are a result of Congress’ perception that private payors were paying less than Medicare for comparable lab tests. The final rule for these rate changes was actually released back in June of 2016, but they weren’t slated to go into effect until next month due to public feedback requesting more time develop the information systems necessary to implement the rate changes.
Preliminary payment rates published by CMS in September already trend toward cuts, with 879 of the 1,360 codes for which CMS published expected rates on track for a 10 percent pay cut and another 115 codes up for a price reduction of up to 9 percent. Of the 25 most-reported lab codes included in CMS’ report, nearly half are codes that are used in a typical urgent care practice:
|Code||Description||Services Billed in 2016||Total Medicare Payments in 2016||2017 Average Commercial Payment||2018 Proposed Payment||Projected Year-to-Year Change|
|84443||Assay thyroid stim hormone||21,328,890||$478,201,900.40||$23.05||$20.75||-10%|
|80053||Comprehen metabolic panel||41,058,385||$464,050,570.56||$14.49||$13.04||-10%|
|85025||Complete cbc w/auto diff wbc||41,063,717||$425,439,439.40||$10.66||$9.59||-10%|
|83036||Glycosylated hemoglobin test||19,141,107||$248,747,306.97||$13.32||$11.99||-10%|
|84153||Assay of psa total||4,182,938||$102,655,551.38||$25.23||$22.71||-10%|
|84439||Assay of free thyroxine||7,001,009||$84,030,813.18||$12.37||$11.13||-10%|
|87086||Urine culture/colony count||7,466,946||$81,233,769.73||$11.07||$9.96||-10%|
|G0481||Drug test def 8-14 classes||615,161||$72,905,808.62||$160.99||$144.89||-10%|
|G0480||Drug test def 1-7 classes||922,783||$68,205,583.28||$117.65||$105.89||-10%|
|81528||Oncology colorectal scr||122,759||$61,218,169.80||$512.43||$508.87||-0.7%|
|87186||Microbe susceptible mic||3,893,666||$49,897,154.33||$11.86||$10.67||-10%|
If you’re not sure how these changes to the clinical lab fee schedule will impact your urgent care center, make sure you work with an urgent care billing company that has expert knowledge in Medicare reimbursement. Getting ahead of the changes will ensure your center is set up for success as you head into the new year.
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