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Illustration of arrows pointing towards the year "2025" on a blue background.
This is the fifth year in a row Congress has delayed PAMA implementation.

Congress Delays Medicare Cuts to Clinical Labs

The cuts would have affected approximately 800 clinical laboratory services, cutting reimbursement up to 15 percent

Photo portrait of Miriam Bergeret
Miriam Bergeret, MSc
Photo portrait of Miriam Bergeret

Miriam Bergeret, MSc, is Today's Clinical Lab's managing editor.

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Published:Nov 16, 2023
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For the fifth year in a row, the United States Congress has passed a bill providing a one-year delay of the Medicare cuts laid out in the 2014 Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) that were scheduled for January 2024. Now delayed until 2025, the cuts would have affected approximately 800 clinical laboratory services, cutting reimbursement up to 15 percent.

Though relieved by the delay in cuts, the clinical laboratory community is still focused on a long-term solution:

The American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), which has been actively involved in advocacy through their “Stop Lab Cuts” campaign with support from organizations serving patients, providers, and hospitals, released a statement on November 16:

“ACLA is grateful to Congress for including a short-term reprieve from Medicare laboratory payment cuts and data reporting as part of the stopgap funding bill. Resumption of year-over-year cuts would threaten patient access to quality clinical laboratory services, reduce investment in innovation for the next generation of diagnostics, and weaken the nation’s clinical laboratory infrastructure,” said ACLA president Susan Van Meter in a recent press release. “The one-year delay is essential, and in 2024, we will continue partnering with the 70 patient and provider organizations and the bipartisan and bicameral SALSA champions in Congress to advance SALSA as a sustainable, long-term solution to this problem.”

The Saving Access to Laboratory Services Act (S.4449/H.R. 8188), or SALSA, is a bill introduced by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) on June 22, 2022, to update data reporting requirements and payment methodology enacted under PAMA, which laid out multiyear, double-digit reimbursement cuts for clinical laboratory services. PAMA has already resulted in payment cuts of up to 10 percent, which impact 72 percent of the tests included in the Medicare Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule.

For more information on PAMA, as well as how SALSA would change and improve PAMA, watch this free on-demand webinar from our partner, G2 Intelligence.

Correction: An earlier version of this article quoted Shannon Bennett, which has since been removed, and a direct link to the House bill citing the delay to 2025 has now been added.