ASCLS/CLMA/ASCP/AMT/AGT/NSH Legislative Symposium

“Leg Day” March 19 - 20, 2018

IMG_3676.JPGThe Legislative, Compliance and Regulatory Committee (LCRC) again assisted in planning and presenting at the 2018 Legislative Symposium held in Washington, D.C., March 19 – 20. Four members of CLMA’s LCRC attended this year's event: Diane Cicchini, Michele Best, Mike Hiltunen, and Rod Forsman.  Additionally, members of the Iowa, New York, Florida, Connecticut, Minnesota, and South Dakota chapters also attended the event. There were several students among this year’s attendees. 2018 marked Legislative Symposium’s 30th year and included 130 registrants from 43 states and the District of Columbia. Click here for a copy of the 2018 Legislative Symposium Agenda.

Advocacy on behalf of CLMA takes many forms. Sending CLMA members to Capitol Hill pays several dividends. When legislation, regulations or enforcement actions by the Federal Government and its agencies affect clinical laboratories, CLMA assesses whether it would benefit membership to support, oppose or remain neutral on the issues. Educating members on existing and emerging issues is imperative for LCRC.

Seeking remedy in person, meeting directly with legislators or their staffs, is important whether the issues benefit or adversely impact membership. Requesting support or opposition to existing Bills or recommending additional legislation to serve the laboratory community is imperative.  

The agenda of the symposium focused on current legislative and regulatory topics affecting the laboratory and the legislative environment on Capitol Hill. The first day of the meeting is educational for the registrants: learning about the issues impacting clinical laboratories and how to present the message to our members of Congress.The second day is reserved for Hill visits. See the 2018 Legislative Symposium PAMA Leave Behind and Workforce Leave Behind. The primary issues this year included the Section 216 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) which required the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to calculate and establish a new Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS) based on private payer payment data submitted by “applicable labs.”and the diminishing laboratory workforce  Previous efforts around co-pays and competitive bidding models for lab were successful, having been appealed to elected representatives. Face-to-face meetings with key legislators and their staffs create two-way communication and build relationships for future interaction. This year, CLMA members met with the following individuals:IMG_3678.JPG

  • Senator Debbie Stabenow – Committee on Finance, Committee on the Budget 
  • Senator Gary Peters – Joint Economic Committee
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley – Committee on Finance 
  • Sen. Rand Paul – Member Committee on Health, Education, Labor and 
  • Sen. Benjamin Cardin – Committee on Finance 
  • Sen. Joni Ernst 
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • House Representative Sandy Levin – House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Health
  • House Representative Justin Amash – Oversight and Government Reform  

LCRC members provided education on the significant flaws in the CMS methodologies to implement Sec 216 of PAMA and the detrimental effects full implementation of these cuts will have on the market along with threatening access to essential laboratory services to Medicare Beneficiaries.

LCRC members then asked Congress to take the following actions to mitigate the risks imposed by PAMA:

  1. Make a statutory adjustment to CLFS payments that provides short-term relief and allows time to revise the rate-setting process conducted by CMS.
  2. Ensure a valid stratified random data sample is collected by CMS that represents all segments of the laboratory market.
  3. Streamline data collection requirements to reduce the burden on participating laboratories by focusing only on data specific to the private market.
  4. Revise PAMA statutory requirements to calculate final CLFS payment rates per code as a weighted mean proportionate to laboratory type, market share and geography.

The second issue of importance this year is the major workforce shortages facing our laboratories. The workforce shortage will result in reduced access to laboratory services, lack of appropriate federal funding to the Public Health Service Act will result in reduced student enrollment, for those seeking training to enter the clinical laboratory workforce and laboratories suffering from inadequate staffing will be unable to provide clinic hours for students in training,

Please take the opportunity to study the attached documents and provide your support by e-mailing or calling your elected officials in Washington, D.C. their home offices.  Determine if your Congressional Representative serves on a key Health Care committee by reviewing their committee memberships. Each of us, as constituents, has the right and the power to influence legislation. It is critical to be heard.

We encourage all CLMA Chapters to sponsor one or more of their members to attend the 2019 Legislative Symposium so voices from across the county can unite and be heard. Dates for next year's symposium are March 18-19, 2019.

Stay up to date on the advocacy issues facing you and your laboratory through the Advocacy Section of CLMA's website.