Delay of Medicare Sequester Cuts Passed by Senate
By Jessie Hellmann | March 25, 2021
The Senate voted Thursday to delay Medicare payment cuts for the rest of the year, a big win for hospitals and providers.
The 2% cuts originally took effect in 2013 but were paused by Congress last year in response to the pandemic and its effect on providers’ finances.
The cuts totaling $18 billion were scheduled to resume next week absent Congressional action, but providers lobbied hard for an extension of the moratorium, arguing the pandemic continues to negatively impact their bottom lines.
The bill is expected to pass the House before being signed by President Joe Biden.
To read more, go to Modern Healthcare.
Medicare Administrative Contractors Tout New Nationwide Coverage of Imaging Procedure
By Marty Stempniak | March 24, 2021
Medicare Administrative Contractors are touting new nationwide coverage for facet joint injections, a move that advocates called “significant” for interventional radiologists and other specialists.
The American College of Radiology highlighted the news on Monday, noting that its Contractor Advisory Committee Network has been tracking this issue since May 2020. All seven MACs have now outlined billing and payment for this procedure, which will be effective in all coverage areas by May 1.
“This topic is significant for interventional radiologists and pain management communities,” ACR said in a news update, encouraging providers to review the new policy carefully to avoid future claim denials.
With involvement from all MACs, the policy represents equivalent coverage across all states, the college noted. To help educate radiologists about the update, CGS Administrators is hosting a web event on April 14, exploring topics including coverage indications, limitations, medical necessity and documentation. You can find further details in the link above.
To read more, go to Radiology Business.
Number of Interventional, Vascular Radiologists Outpacing Overall Physician Growth in U.S.
By Matt O’Connor | March 23, 2021
The number of vascular and interventional radiologists is quickly outpacing the national overall growth rate of physicians, according to a new workforce analysis.
Healthcare organizations from India to Ohio scrutinized U.S. physician data spanning 2015 to 2019 for their findings, shared March 19 in Clinical Imaging. Over that time, the number of total active doctors grew by 1.8% per year, while VIRs increased at an 8.3% clip. Vascular surgeons trailed behind at 4.4%, while diagnostic radiologists rounded out the bottom at 0.06%.
Interventional radiology is a rising subspecialty, treating nearly 1 in 10 U.S. inpatients and continually welcoming residents into the field. Many experts only expect this workforce to keep expanding, the researchers explained Friday.
“With the growing role of IR inpatient management across a broad spectrum of disease processes and with the aging patient population, it is imperative to maintain an adequate vascular and interventional radiology workforce across the country in order to provide adequate access to specialized … care to our patients,” Vibhor Wadhwa, MD, with the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Division of Interventional Radiology, and colleagues wrote.
To read more, go to Health Imaging.
HHS Pauses Rule to Review and Eliminate Old Regulations
By Michael Brady | March 22, 2021
The Biden administration last week delayed a controversial Trump-era rule requiring HHS to assess nearly all its regulations after 10 years and end them automatically if the department doesn’t review them within five years.
HHS paused the rule, which was supposed to take effect on Monday, because of a lawsuit filed on Mar. 9 by several organizations. The American Lung Association, the National Association of Pediatric Nurses and others claimed the rule was a “ticking timebomb” that could severely disrupt the healthcare system by creating regulatory confusion—more than 17,000 rules could sunset by 2026, according to the lawsuit.
Federal regulators said the claims are “credible” and that they won’t move forward with the so-called “SUNSET” rule until the case makes its way through the courts.
“HHS is unaware of any benefits from the implementation of the SUNSET final rule that would be significantly curtailed from a stay of its effective date. The department is taking a fresh and critical look at the SUNSET final rule in light of the allegations in the complaint (although many of these concerns were also raised during the comment period on the proposed rule),” the rule said.
The rule subjects most regulations to a two-step review. HHS would first decide whether a rule has a significant economic impact on a large number of small entities. If it does, the department will review whether the rule is still needed; complaints about it; its complexity; if it duplicates or conflicts with other regulations; and whether the agency should rework or withdraw it because of technological, economic or legal changes.
But some healthcare groups have called the process duplicative and burdensome, noting that the Administrative Procedures Act already requires review and comments on proposed regulations. In particular, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission said the Trump-era plan would create confusion for managed care plans, states, providers and beneficiaries and force inexperienced staff to assess rules that may be essential to some HHS programs without understanding their impact.
To read more, go to Modern Healthcare.