Medicare lab signature mandate to be delayed further

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 4, 2011

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will further delay enforcement of a rule requiring physician signatures on laboratory requisitions, according to members of organized medicine.

The agency had sent an interim final rule that rescinds the signature requirement to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review on March 21. However, administration lawyers said the interim rule could not go forward and that CMS must go through the proper federal rulemaking process.

In the meantime, CMS will continue not to enforce the physician signature rule, said JoAnne Glisson, senior vice president of the American Clinical Laboratory Assn. in Washington, D.C.

The requirement technically took effect Jan. 1, but enforcement never occurred because the American Medical Association and other groups opposed the new regulation, saying it was overly burdensome on physicians and labs as well as a threat to patient access.

CMS officials indicated in February that the agency would be rescinding the rule.

The official rescission of the requirement most likely will appear in the proposed Medicare physician fee schedule expected this summer, Glisson said. Physicians and other interested parties then would have the opportunity to comment on the proposal before it is finalized later this year.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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