Department Sponsors Bill on Lab License Fees and Accrediting Bodies
The Ca. Department of Public Health, the parent agency for Lab Field Services, has sponsored the introduction of SB 744 (Strickland) which would introduce a new sliding fee schedule for clinical lab license fees and establish specific requirements for recognized lab accreditation organizations like the CAP. The changes are partially in response to a critical audit released by the non-partisan Ca. Bureau if State Audits on the performance of LFS in the inspection and regulation of clinical labs and licensing of personnel. SB 744 is designed to provide LFS with the resources to fulfill their mandate. All funds collected would only be used for these functions. Under current law 10% of fees for labs and personnel can go to the state General Fund. SB 744 has not yet been heard in Committee.
The new clinical lab license fee, which was $1,023 for renewal would be replaced with a sliding scale for labs based upon their volume. The fees start at $270 for 2,000 or less tests and the top is $4,960 for up to 1 million tests with an additional $350 for every 500,000 tests over 1 million. A test would include all clinical and anatomic pathology and all types of labs would be subject to the fees including POLs. We are assessing the financial impact on pathologists with freestanding labs or outreach programs.
The CSP is also working with the CAP to review and seek amendments to the new requirements for the recognition of outside accrediting organizations. Most of the requirements are appropriate for "deemed status" but some need refinement.
The CSP will also seek to eliminate the current separate fee requirement for lab performing cytology based upon the volume of procedures. That fee was established in large part to fund the creation of a cytology PT program that has never materialized.
State Budget Cash Flow Problems will Impact Medi-Cal Checkwrites
Though the Legislature has again passed a budget reform package to deal with the significant state budget deficit there will be some payment delays for some providers starting next week. As they did last summer in the last budget stalemate there will be check holds and 30 day payment delays to Medi-Cal "institutional " providers which in our case would include clinical labs with a clinical lab provider number and not a medical group number. Thus starting next week that checkwrite will be paid 30 days later for any freestanding clinical lab. The authority exists for these check holds to continue when the state has cash flow problems. We are at risk for that through April 15th as tax refunds are issued. It is a week by week determination and could have happened in the first two weeks of March but was not implemented since cash receipts were adequate.