Question of the Week

What’s all this I hear about “appropriate use criteria” that Medicare will use to determine payment for outpatient imaging?

The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (a/k/a “PAMA”) established a new program to increase the rate of appropriate advanced diagnostic imaging services provided to Medicare beneficiaries.  Examples of such advanced imaging services include:  CT, PET and MRI scans.  Under this program, at the time a practitioner orders an advanced diagnostic imaging service for a Medicare beneficiary, he/she, or clinical staff acting under his/her direction, will be required to consult a qualified Clinical Decision Support Mechanism.  CDSMs are electronic portals through which appropriate use criteria can be accessed.

The program won’t go into effect until January 1, 2023 or the January 1 after the current public health emergency ends, whichever is later.  And it only applies to services in a physician’s office, hospital outpatient department (including the emergency department), an ambulatory surgical center or an independent diagnostic testing facility and whose claims are paid under the physician fee schedule, hospital outpatient prospective payment system or ambulatory surgical center payment system.  So (at least for now) it does NOT apply in critical access hospitals.

For more information, check out the CMS website.