ASCLS/CLMA/ASCP/AMT/AGT Legislative Symposium

“Leg Day” March 20 - 21, 2017


Ed Nartowicz, CLMA 2016-17 Advocacy Council Chair, welcomes attendees on behalf of CLMA.
Ed Nartowicz, CLMA 2016-2017 Advocacy Council Chair, welcomes attendees on behalf of CLMA.

The CLMA Legislative, Compliance and Regulatory Committee (LCRC) again assisted in the planning and presentations for the 2017 Legislative Symposium held in Washington, D.C., March 20 – 21. Five members of CLMA’s LCRC attended this year's event. Committee members Michele Best, Paul Keoppel, and Ed Nartowicz were sponsored by CLMA, while Carol Collingsworth and Mary Jo Bonifas were sponsored by the Iowa Chapter of CLMA. This year’s Leg. Day marked the 29th Legislative Symposium and had 133 registrants from 43 states.

Advocacy efforts on behalf of CLMA members take many forms. Resources directed toward a physical presence on Capitol Hill pay several dividends. When legislation, regulations, or enforcement actions by the Federal Government and its agencies affect clinical laboratory managers, it is appropriate to first determine whether it would benefit our membership to support, oppose, or remain neutral on the issue. Educating our members on these emerging issues is always the goal of the LCRC.

Whether an action benefits or adversely impacts the membership, seeking remedy from legislators typically takes the form of asking for support or opposition to bills before the House and Senate, or recommending that new laws be introduced. If the issue involves actions by regulatory agencies it is often helpful to enlist the support of Senators and Members of Congress who communicate these concerns to the agencies. Actions such as co-pay and competitive bidding models for lab have successfully been dealt with in that manner. Importantly, face-to-face meetings with key legislators and their staff create two-way communication links that are very important for subsequent interactions.

Mary Jo Bonifas and Paul Keoppel educate attendees on PAMA and its impact on labs.

Mary Jo Bonifas and Paul Keoppel educate attendees on PAMA and its impact on labs.

The agenda of Leg. Day is always focused on current topics and is attentive to what business is foremost on Capitol Hill at that time. The first day of the meeting is educational for the registrants; learning about the issues impacting the clinical laboratory and how to present the message to our members of Congress. The second day is reserved for Hill visits. See the 2017 Legislative Symposium Leave Behind here. This year’s primary issue facing the clinical laboratory is Section 216 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) that requires 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”. LCRC committee members secured visits to disucss this issue with key members of Congress including:

  • Sen. Orrin Hatch – Chair Senate Finance Committee 
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley – Committee on Finance 
  • Sen. Rand Paul – Member Committee on Health, Education, Labor and 
  • Pension Sen. Mitch McConnell – Senate Majority Leader 

After providing education on the significant flaws in the CMS methodologies to implement Sec 216 of PAMA, we urged an immediate administrative delay in the PAMA implementation. We also asked the CLMA membership to contact Tom Price, CMS Secretary, as well as House Ways and Means, and House Budget leadership to alert them about this critical issue. LCRC Committee members were notified several days after the meeting that Senator Grassley did indeed contact both CMS and House Ways and Means Budget Leadership, expressing his support for an implementation delay. On March 24, 2017 a letter signed by ten laboratory organizations was sent to the CMS Secretary as well as Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Finance Committee, House Ways and Means Committee and House Energy Commerce Committee, expressing concerns about the implementation of PAMA and asking for a one-year delay in implementation.

Our collective voices were heard! On March 30, 2017, CMS announced a 60-day extension for applicable labs to submit their required data to CMS. While CMS did not delay the entire implementation of PAMA, it is a step in the right direction and key lawmakers are watching this issue closely. We will continue to engage the Hill and ask a full year delay in implementation at the very least.

Please take the opportunity to peruse the attached documents and carry forward your support by e-mailing or calling your elected officials in Washington, D.C. or their home offices. We have been told that as few as six individuals can frame their position on an important issue.

We encourage more CLMA Chapters to sponsor one or more of their members to attend the 2018 Legislative Symposium so our voices can be heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill. Dates for next year's symposium are March 19-20, 2018.

2017 Legislative Symposium Leave Behind

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


Von Ahsen, Collingsworth, Bonifas, Summar, Best, Keoppel, Brent Miller.jpg



Carol Collingsworth and Mary Jo Bonifas.jpg

Meeting with Karen Summar, MD, Senator Grassley’s Health Policy Director

Pictured Left to Right: Kim Von Ahsen, Carol Collingsworth, Mary Jo Bonifas, Dr. Karen Summar, Michele Best, Paul Keoppel, Brent Miller

LCRC members Mary Jo Bonifas and Carol Collingsworth on Capitol Hill