Regulators expected to rescind physician signature requirement for lab requisition forms

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has indicated that it might rescind a rule that requires physician signatures on requisitions for all clinical laboratory tests paid for by Medicare, as part of the 2011 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. Long-term care providers had worried this rule would delay important lab tests for residents since physician visits to skilled nursing facilities can be infrequent.

After requests from providers and lawmakers for more time to implement the physician signature requirement leading up to Jan. 1, CMS delayed enforcement of the rule until April 1. However, members of the House and Senate recently signed letters asking CMS for an additional nine months postponement so that providers, labs and physicians could streamline the signature process. They argued that, in some cases, physicians might be unaware of this requirement.

During a conference call Friday between Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare Management, and representatives from the American Association of Bioanalysts and the American Clinical Laboratory Association, Blum said that CMS had reached a decision to eliminate the rule altogether, the laboratory news website reported Monday.