CMS Delays Lab Signature Rule

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) says it is delaying until April enforcement of a requirement that a physician or qualified nonphysician practitioner (NPP) sign requisitions for clinical diagnostic laboratory tests paid for under the 2011 clinical laboratory fee schedule.

"Although many physicians, NPPs, and clinical diagnostic laboratories may be aware of and are able to comply with this policy, CMS is concerned that some … are not aware of or do not understand this policy," a CMS statement said. "As such, CMS will focus in the first calendar quarter of 2011 on developing educational and outreach materials to educate those affected by this policy. As they become available, we will post this information on our website and use the other channels we have to communicate with providers to ensure this information is widely distributed. Once our first quarter of 2011 educational campaign is fully under way, CMS will expect requisitions to be signed."

Twenty-nine health care organizations representing hospitals, labs, and lab technicians oppose the requirement. They called it "redundant and burdensome" in a letter to CMS. They said they will try to get it repealed.

Action, Jan. 4, 2010