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AACC Calls for Better Use of Clinical Lab Tests

NEW YORK (360Dx) – AACC today issued a position statement calling for the effective use of clinical laboratory tests in the face of changes to how Medicare reimburses for such tests.

The AACC called for increased collaboration between physicians and laboratory medicine professionals, and said that the success of such reimbursement changes "depends on the appropriate use of laboratory testing since these tests yield the majority of objective data that help physicians to determine diagnoses and treatment plans." It further noted that there are about 3,500 laboratory tests, rendering it "unrealistic" to expect physicians to be experts in laboratory medicine.

The statement never explicitly mentions the Protecting Access to Medicare Act, or PAMA, which will set up a market-based reimbursement system for lab tests, but today is the deadline under which certain laboratories must report their private payor data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as it creates new reimbursement rates. PAMA is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

AACC asks Congress to continue funding evidence-based studies through programs, such as the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research institute, to assess the performance of lab tests. The association also endorses additional federal funding for basic and clinical research into laboratory medicine, "including the translation of new laboratory tests into clinical practice."

It also said that CMS should support the development and implementation of evidence-based quality measures that assess the utilization of laboratory services, and that CMS create a pilot program to evaluate if wider adoption of collaborative caregiver group models results in better patient care and reduced costs.

Lastly, AAACC suggested a partnership between the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the private sector to develop clinical decision support tools to guide clinicians in selecting lab tests.