Preserving Access to Bedside Laboratory Services

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NASL 2020 Issue Briefs:

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2021 Cuts to Medicare Part B Programs Reduce Beneficiaries’ Access to Care

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Benefits of a New Payment Model for Clinical Laboratory Services Provided to Nursing Home or Homebound Patients

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Currently, Medicare beneficiaries who resident in a nursing facility or who are homebound receive basic laboratory services from specialized clinical laboratory providers who travel to the patient to collect specimens and then conduct clinical lab diagnostic tests. Access to these services is threatened because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has not materially rebased the labor portion of the travel allowance paid to these laboratories since the Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule was first established in 1984. Medicare beneficiaries who are either homebound or require 24-hour, seven day a week nursing facility care have unique care needs that preclude travel to a physician’s office or clinic. Instead, these patients rely on the services of specialized clinical lab providers who travel to the bedside to take lab test samples. While much has changed since 1984, two things have not – the travel allowance portion of the lab reimbursement has not been updated and the need for this service remains. Updating of the travel allowance is necessary so that these specialized clinical lab providers can continue to serve the unique care needs of these vulnerable patients. 

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