Medicare Part B medical insurance helps pay for some services and products not covered by Part A (hospital insurance) for Americans aged 65 and older who have worked and paid into the system. It also provides health insurance to younger people with disabilities.
Part B coverage begins once a patient meets his or her deductible ($147 in 2013), then typically Medicare covers 80% of approved services, while the remaining 20% is paid by the patient, either directly or indirectly by private Medigap insurance.
For clinical labs and pathology groups, Part B covers laboratory and diagnostic tests. Laboratory tests include certain blood tests, urinalysis, tests on tissue specimens, and some screening tests. They must be provided by a laboratory that meets Medicare requirements.
Complex rules are used to manage the benefit, and advisories are periodically issued which describe coverage criteria. On the national level these advisories are issued by CMS, and are known as National Coverage Determinations (NCD). Local Coverage Determinations (LCD) apply within the multi-state area managed by a specific regional Medicare Part B contractor, and Local Medical Review Policies (LMRP) were superseded by LCDs in 2003.
Medicare Part B payments make up about 15% of the revenue of the two biggest national lab companies. By contrast, it is common for community labs to have between 30% and 65% of their revenue come from Medicare Part B payments.
Part B coverage can also be provided by private insurers through Medicare Advantage Plans. Enrollment in private Medicare Advantage plans has more than doubled since 2006, according to the New York Times. As these plans gain popularity, clinical labs and pathology groups continue to find themselves without access to patients they once served. Medicare beneficiaries now enrolled in Advantage plans comprise nearly one-third of all Medicare beneficiaries.
Generally speaking, growth in Medicare Advantage enrollment favors the national labs, with private insurers providing them exclusive network contracts. This means less market access to these patients by community labs.
CEO SUMMARY: On Nov. 2, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its Physician Fee Schedule for 2019. It says it will expand the number of labs from which it collects data about the lab test prices paid by private health insurers. While some labs may welcome these changes, groups representing clinical laboratories
How many consecutive 10% and 15% cuts to the prices Medicare pays for clinical laboratory tests can smaller community labs absorb before they are forced to shut their doors and go out of business? This nation is about to find out. As this happens, Medicare beneficiaries (and their physicians) in small towns and rural areas
CEO SUMMARY: While acknowledging that the American Clinical Laboratory Association raises important questions in its case against the federal Department of Health and Human Services, a district court judge ruled that the court cannot resolve the dispute and dismissed the ACLA’s claims for lack of “subject matter jurisdiction.” While not dismissing it outright, the judge
CEO SUMMARY: Publication of the draft Medicare Physician Fee Schedule on July 12 brought unwelcome news for the clinical lab industry, at least as it pertains to whether hospital lab outreach data should be included in the PAMA market study that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must conduct. In the draft rule,
CEO SUMMARY: Innovative clinical labs and pathology groups are absorbing this year’s Medicare Part B price cuts while continuing to pursue opportunities to add value. A common theme from many speakers at last week’s Executive War College in New Orleans is that the lab must get mastery of its LIS and informatics specifically to enable
CEO SUMMARY: Several developments have moved the case forward since December when the American Clinical Laboratory Association filed suit in federal court against the Department of Health and Human Services. Inrecent weeks, ACLA filed for summary judgment; HHS responded with its own request for summary judgment; and most recently ACLA filed its rebuttal to the
CEO SUMMARY: When the American Clinical Laboratory Association filed its lawsuit Dec. 11 against the Secretary of Health and Human Services, one of its main claims is that HHS collected payment data on the clinical laboratory testing business in a manner that was deeply flawed. HHS then used that flawed data to set payment rates
DEEP PRICE CUTS to the Medicare Part B Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule was the big story of 2017. The big story of 2018 may be the widespread financial disruption to the clinical lab industry as labs see dramatic declines in their revenue from these Medicare fee cuts.
One early opportunity for lab administrators and pathologists to