In the final physician fee schedule regulation published in the Federal Register on November 2, 1999, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) stated that it would implement a policy to pay only the hospital for the technical component (TC) of physician pathology services furnished to hospital patients. Prior to this proposal, any independent laboratory could bill the carrier under the physician fee schedule for the TC of physician pathology services for hospital patients.
At the request of the industry, to allow independent laboratories and hospitals sufficient time to negotiate arrangements, the implementation of this rule was administratively delayed. Subsequent legislation formalized a moratorium on the implementation of the rule. As such, during this time, the carriers and, more recently, Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) have continued to pay for the TC of physician pathology services when an independent laboratory furnishes this service to an inpatient or outpatient of a covered hospital.
The most recent extension of the moratorium, established by the Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Extension Act (MMSEA), Section 104, expired on June 30, 2008. A new extension of the moratorium has been established by the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, Section 136, retroactive to July 1, 2008.
A previous communication indicated that the moratorium had ended and that independent laboratories may no longer bill Medicare for the TC of physician pathology services furnished to patients of a covered hospital, regardless of the beneficiary's hospitalization status (inpatient or outpatient) on the date that the service was performed. This prohibition is rescinded and the moratorium will continue effective for claims with dates of service on and after July 1, 2008, but prior to January 1, 2010.