Community labs—which have been under financial stress for some time due to Congressional changes to the clinical laboratory fee schedule and tough tactics from private payers looking to contain costs—are facing a challenge to survive. The September issue ofClinical Laboratory News (CLN) explores the challenges these labs face.

AACC has been at the forefront of raising issues of particular importance for community labs. In a comment letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, AACC wrote that ‘these payment rates may force many smaller community laboratories, hospitals, and physician office laboratories to either scale back or discontinue their testing. If this were to occur, it could have significant ramifications for patient access to testing, particularly in rural and other underserved areas,” writes Bill Malone in CLN. Routine, high-volume tests that community labs often handle will be cut at least 20% under the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA), if not more, the magazine reports.

Despite this, not many members of Congress seem to be concerned about the effects of these cuts, lab consultant Michael Snyder told CLN. “The leverage is entirely with the big labs and the health plans, making the reimbursement problem look increasingly insurmountable for small laboratories,” Snyder said in the magazine. “On top of this, because PAMA is a funding mechanism for the [Affordable Care Act] and the SGR fix, few on Capitol Hill seem to care about its effect on small labs. They have bigger fish to fry now.”

Check out the September issue of CLN  to read the full article, “Can Community Labs Survive?”