On Nov. 8, the Senate Finance Committee passed the Better Mental Health Care, Lower Drug Cost, and Extenders Act, which was reported out of committee 26 to 0.

Among other things, the legislation “extends essential Medicaid and Medicare provisions that will expire this year, and increases Medicare payments to support physicians and other providers,” according to a joint statement released by Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

Section 408 of the legislation would continue to protect laboratories from Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) reimbursement cuts of up to 15 percent until Jan. 1, 2025. According to a section-by-section analysis of the legislation, the provision specifically does this by “delaying the reporting and collecting of private insurance payments for clinical laboratory services through Dec. 31, 2024 and by extending the zero-percent cap on payment reductions through 2024.”

The legislation’s passage out of committee comes after a Nov. 6 letter from the National Independent Laboratory Association with the American Clinical Laboratory Association, urging congressional leaders to enact the Saving Access to Laboratory Services (SALSA) Act (S.1000/H.R.2377) in 2024. Additionally, the letter applauded the Senate Finance Committee inclusion of a one-year delay in reimbursement cuts and data reporting requirements in the discussion draft for the executive session on Nov. 8.

The SALSA Act would permanently protect laboratories from PAMA reimbursement cuts of up to 15 percent. Additionally, payment rates for specific clinical diagnostic laboratory tests would be based on a statistical sampling of private sector rates.