Our interconnected society makes it vital that our public health professionals get real-time access to diagnostic information for quick identification of the disease and treatment. However, potentially devastating cuts to the Medicare Clinical Lab Fee Schedule from the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) could hurt all laboratories but particularly hard hit will be rural and frontier communities.
COLA, a national laboratory accreditor and an advocate for quality in laboratory medicine and patient care, recently released this video highlighting the importance of near patient testing within our total network of laboratories and our ability to respond to a public health crisis.
“When someone becomes ill they tend to see their own local physician first,” Dr. John Daly, Chief Medical Officer for COLA, said. “Local providers who utilize their own in-office lab can quickly rule out other infections. When an infection is not identified they can send the specimen to a more sophisticated laboratory. This expedites the identification process compared to sending initial testing out to a reference lab,” Daly continued.
In 2014, Congress passed PAMA, which could compromise the ability to perform point of care testing. The loss of rapid diagnosis would make small communities more vulnerable to exotic infectious disease outbreaks if local community laboratories were to shut down.
Medicare may soon cut reimbursements for many laboratory tests under a new law. “If this law gets implemented as currently proposed, it would have very real and devastating consequences to our public health infrastructure and our capacity to respond expeditiously during an outbreak,” Dr. Daly said.
COLA has launched a new webpage, Near Patient Testing Matters, to highlight the importance of near patient laboratory testing with interviews from the field of small laboratories and doctors, research and reports that show just how vital these labs are to the health of communities.