CMS confirms it will kill clinical signature rule

by Grant Huang on Jun 30, 2011

DecisionHealth stock imageCMS has finally confirmed that it will axe the clinical signature requirement rule, as we first reported in Part B News way back in February. The rule, which was set to take effect Jan. 1, 2011, would've required all clinical lab orders to be physically signed by ordering physicians. It was delayed to April 1, 2011 after taking a withering barrage of fire from advocacy groups, particularly the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA).

Under the rule, labs would not be paid by Medicare for doing lab orders that didn't have a physician signature. While physicians would not be penalized monetarily, if the rule became law it's easy to see how labs would stop taking orders from providers who didn't sign their lab orders, which is a task provider groups panned, citing workflow issues.

Now CMS has issued a proposed rule that rescinds the signature requirement, ending the regulatory limbo for the rule, which was first introduced in the 2011 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.

Not surprisingly, the ACLA is among the first to declare victory. "ACLA sincerely appreciates CMS rectifying this unworkable situation, ensuring there will be no disruption in the provision of vital clinical laboratory services to Medicare beneficiaries," ACLA President Alan Mertz said in a prepared statement. "Clarifying the situation once and for all is important so that all Medicare providers and contractors have unambiguous direction on this policy change."

But remember: You heard it first from Part B News back in February.

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