ASCP 2018: Evolving Healthcare Climate Requires Understanding of Possible Public Policy Initiatives to Respond Appropriately to Economic, Professional Challenges

Jul 06, 2018

During this time of uncertainty in healthcare reimbursement and coverage, it is essential for laboratories to react quickly to economic and regulatory challenges. That requires an understanding of the policies the federal government may place on pathology and laboratory medicine. ASCP 2018 Annual Meeting attendees won’t want to miss Lawsuits, CLIA, Labs and Public Policy: An Update on How Government Affects the Pathology and Lab Community, a public policy session that will be held Oct. 3 during the Annual Meeting, in Baltimore, Md.

“Regulatory and legislative initiatives at the federal and state levels have a profound effect on pathology and laboratory medicine,” said Gene Siegal, MD, PhD, FASCP, Chair of the Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy, who will chair the session. “For 2018, there are a host of major policy and legal issues affecting pathology and laboratory medicine. This session provides our members an opportunity to learn from some of ASCP’s policy and legal experts about these issues and the effect they may have on pathology and laboratory medicine’s ability to provide quality patient care.”

Panelists will include ASCP Past President Steve Kroft, MD, MASCP, Greg Sossaman, MD, FASCP, and ASCP Board of Certification Executive Director Patricia Tanabe, MPA, MLS(ASCP)CM.

Among the issues the panel will tackle are the Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s (CMS) plans to revise the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments’ (CLIA) requirements and lower personnel standards. Currently, CMS has in place a policy that allows individuals with a bachelor’s degree in nursing to do high-complexity testing.

ASCP reacted strongly against a CMS proposal earlier this year to formalize this policy.

“There are several studies, based on proficiency testing, that show strong personnel standards improve the quality of testing,” said Matt Schulze, Director of ASCP’s Center for Public Policy. “CMS’s proposal is a concern for ASCP and its members because we want patients to get the most accurate testing possible. We need CMS to adopt a final rule, ending this flawed policy. As yet, no such proposal has been relayed to the Office of Management and Budget for review.”

Another issue that will be addressed is the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) lawsuit against CMS. In that suit, the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) is suing CMS over the structure of the new payment rate plan which was supposed to price tests at the market rate. CMS excluded the vast majority of the market for lab services from pricing determinations, relying only on the data from high volume labs such as Quest and LabCorp. Smaller labs generally cannot meet the cost points that these larger labs have, calling into question their ability to compete.  

“ASCP is opposed to the CMS pricing plan and is supportive of the lawsuit to force CMS to reprice lab services,” said Schulze. “ASCP is also working with Congress to change the PAMA statute to ensure fair valuation of laboratory services.”

This session will give pathologists and laboratory professionals a better understanding of the challenges of the lab field in part so that they can plan for the future and to work toward improving policies that affect their livelihood.

To learn more about networking opportunities and the more than 250 hours of cutting edge education at ASCP 2018, click here.