October 12, 2009 “Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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In the continuing saga of health reform efforts in Washington, DC, the clinical laboratory industry got a bit of good news, at least for the moment. In recent weeks, the Senate Finance Committee removed a provision to raise $750 million annually by enacting a tax on clinical lab revenue. The proposed tax was eliminated after lab associations complained to the committee that it was unfair. (See TDR Sept. 21, 2009). However, because health reform legislation is still being debated, it remains possible that other proposals to tax lab testing services could make it into the final law.

MORE ON: Reform

What remains in the Senate version of the bill is a provision to reduce Medicare payments to labs over five years. USA Today reported that Alan Mertz, President of the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), argued that the new provision reducing Medicare funding for lab testing would be better than the annual tax on all lab testing revenues that had been proposed earlier by the Senate Finance Committee.

CARIS ADDS 22 PATHOLOGISTS

For the second time in recent months, a national pathology company has beefed up its professional staff by hiring 20 or more pathologists. Last week, Caris Diagnostics Inc., in Irving, Texas, announced that 22 subspecialist pathologists had joined the company. This brings the total number of pathologists at Caris to 61. These new pathologists represent the fields of dermatopathology, GI pathology, hematopathology, oncologic pathology/tumor profiling, and urologic pathology.

ADD TO: Caris

Earlier this summer, Bostwick Laboratories of Richmond, Virginia, announced that it was hiring at least 25 civilian pathologists from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP). (See TDR, August 31, 2009.) THE DARK REPORT believes that these two “pathologist hiring sprees” at Caris and Bostwick—coming just 10 weeks apart—are a sign that strong demand for pathology testing gives both companies confidence that their respective sales teams can generate enough case referrals to keep these subspecialist pathologists busy and profitable for their employers. Local pathology groups should also take these developments as portents of more competition in coming months.

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