Proposed repeal rule was published in yesterday’s Federal Register
Yesterday, pathologists and clinical laboratory managers got an early Fourth of July present. That’s because the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the proposed rule that repeals the requirement that paper requisitions for medical laboratory tests must have the physician’s signature.
This rule had been mandated by the 2011 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Rule that was to take effect on January 1, 2011. In response to the negative response to this rule from important sectors of healthcare, including laboratory medicine professionals, hospital groups, and physician associations, as well as both Houses of Congress, CMS deferred implementation of the rule for the first 90 days of 2011. (See Dark Daily, “Good News for Clinical Laboratories as CMS Delays Physician’s Signature Requirement, December 22, 2010.”
Prominent national health associations publish tough criticisms of the new final ACO rule
Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers have a ringside seat as the fight to introduce Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) gets underway. On one side is the federal government, represented by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). On the other side are a number of the nation’s most important healthcare organizations.
It is a fight that is heating up. The latest round came just weeks ago, when, on Tuesday, May 17, 2011, HHS unveiled its plan to accelerate the creation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) in this country, including publishing the final rule. It took just days for criticism from major healthcare organizations to fill the new reports.
For its part, HHS believes the new ACO model will save Medicare as much as $430 million over three years. However, many healthcare organizations publicly state that this ACO model contains more risks than rewards. They believe it places an unmanageable reporting burden on the hospitals and physicians that participate in the ACO.
Healthcare Organizations Criticize HHS’ new ACO Model Final Rule
Take the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), for example. Executives representing this influential association expressed their membership’s concern about the ACO proposal. In a letter to Donald Berwick, M.D., Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the AMGA officials wrote that “In an AMGA survey of its membership, 93% of respondents stated that they would not participate in the ACO program unless the requirements in the final rule reflect major modifications to the proposals.”