The much awaited 2008 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule has finally been formally published in the Federal Register (click here to read it).  The proposed Fee Schedule published in June of 2007, included a number of proposed changes to the Stark regulations as well as certain regulatory changes to the diagnostic testing rules and IDTF conditions of participation.  As is usually the case with CMS regulations, the final Fee Schedule includes some good news and some bad news.

With respect to the proposed revisions to the Stark regulations, the good news is that CMS elected not to finalize the proposed regulations in the Fee Schedule. The bad news is that CMS intends to issue additional Stark regulations pursuant to a separate rulemaking. So, be on the lookout more Stark regs (perhaps we should call them Phase IV).  Among other things, however, the final Fee Schedule:

  • Imposes an anti-markup restriction on the technical components (TCs) and professional components (PCs) of diagnostic tests (other than clinical lab tests) that are ordered by the billing supplier, if the TC or PC is purchased by the billing supplier, or the TC or PC is performed outside of the office of the billing supplier;
  • Imposes additional requirements on independent diagnostic testing facilities; and
  • Requires that persons furnishing physical and occupational therapy services to people with Medicare meet licensing, registration, or certification requirements in the state in which they practice, and that they complete an approved educational program for the discipline in which they practice.

The implications of these changes, particularly the anti-markup provisions, are expected to be far reaching.  Check back in the coming days for more discussion of how these changes are likely affect your practice.