/PRNewswire/ -- "Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus' (D-MT) plan to impose $750 million in taxes on clinical laboratory testing services -- on top of other cuts -- translates into a disproportionate cut for laboratories, will damage efforts to enhance prevention and wellness, and raise health care costs," according to Alan Mertz, President of the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA). The proposed fee was included in the health reform "framework" released by the Senate Finance Committee Chairman.
Mertz said, "The tax unfairly targets the clinical laboratory industry among providers, which includes about 40 thousand labs providing a myriad of critical health services to patients across the nation. When the $750 million in new fees are added to other cuts in the proposal, America's clinical labs could be facing cuts several times that of other providers."
"New fees will place an unnecessary access hurdle for laboratory services," added Mertz. "Clinical laboratory services are integral to realizing a key goal of health care reform -- building a new framework to enhance prevention and wellness." Laboratory tests provide critical information on which sound medical decisions can be made. It is estimated that 70% of all medical decisions are based on laboratory testing.
ACLA supports the goals of health reform and understands that everyone has to give to help achieve those goals. The laboratory community has demonstrated that support and willingness to do its fair share by agreeing to a reduction in future annual updates. However, ACLA strenuously objects to being singled out for additional cuts or taxes that are far beyond those taken by other providers.
Mertz concluded by saying that Medicare spending for laboratory tests has not kept pace with inflation. "Overall, Medicare payment amounts for clinical laboratory services have been reduced by about 40 percent in real, inflation-adjusted terms between 1984 and 2004," he said. "Congress has acted to completely eliminate the annual update for clinical labs in 10 of the last 12 years. Since 2000, laboratories have received the smallest cumulative update of any provider in Part B of Medicare, only 5.6% compared to 12% for physicians and 34% for hospitals."
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