February 22, 2011

CMS Withdraws Physician Signature Requirement for Laboratory Requisitions

On February 11, 2011, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) informed various trade associations that it was pulling back a new rule requiring physician signatures on all laboratory requisitions. Although an official announcement has not been made, CMS told several associations, including the American Association of Bioanalysts and the National Independent Laboratory Association, that the rule was found to be unworkable and that it would be withdrawn prior to its April 1, 2011 effective date. This policy was initially scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2011, but CMS delayed implementation until April 1, 2011 due to concerns expressed by lab associations and others.

This is an important development for the lab industry, which contends that this rule would cause disruption and confusion. Bipartisan letters were recently sent to CMS by Representatives of the House and Senate expressing concerns over the rule. The House letter included 89 signatures from House Representatives, while the Senate letter was signed by 34 Senators. CMS has stated an intention to work with the laboratory community in the future with regard to this issue.

We expect that CMS will formally announce the rescission of the physician signature requirement well before April 1, 2011. We will post additional information as it becomes available.

This post was contributed by Kurt Bratten.