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Legislation Will Expand Access to Life-Saving Laboratory Tests
Date:6/10/2009

Bills in U.S. Senate & House will help eliminate barriers that discourage doctors from ordering life-saving tests

WASHINGTON, June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Late yesterday U.S. Senators Arlen Specter (PA) and Ron Wyden (OR) introduced legislation that will improve access to life-saving diagnostic tests for patients who might otherwise be denied. The Patient Access to Critical Lab Tests Act (S. 1220) will eliminate the complicated Medicare billing regulations which discourage hospitals from ordering revolutionary laboratory tests needed to clarify complicated diagnoses and identify uniquely effective methods of treatment. This bill serves as a companion to HR 1699, introduced by U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire (PA-04) and co-sponsored by U.S. Representatives Tim Murphy (PA-18), Mike Doyle (PA-14), Anna Eshoo (CA-14), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34).

The Patient Access to Critical Lab Tests Act dramatically improves patients' access to potentially life-saving lab tests by allowing independent laboratories to directly bill Medicare for the specialized tests they perform. By streamlining the reimbursement process, Doctors will no longer be discouraged to utilize their judgment and order the necessary tests capable of improving the quality of treatment for their patients.

Current Medicare regulations thwart access to these important tests and discourage innovation by requiring hospitals to act as middlemen in the billing process. Laboratories are required to bill hospitals, and hospitals are required to bill Medicare. The Patient Access to Critical Lab Tests Act would permit independent laboratories that develop and perform certain qualifying genetic, genomic or proteomic tests and cancer chemosensitivity assays to bill Medicare directly.

The Coalition for 21st Century Medicine applauds Senators Wyden and Specter for their leadership and looks forward to working with the entire
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SOURCE The Coalition for 21st Century Medicine
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