Lab accreditation organization COLA, Columbia, Md, has issued the following statement in response to the recent publication of final clinical lab fees for 2018 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released its final rates for the clinical laboratory fee schedule (CLFS) that will phase-in a significant cut in the rates of those common tests physicians use every day to diagnose and treat patients. The first cut is 10%, effective January 1, 2018.

The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA) directed CMS to gather data from labs on what private payors reimburse for clinical laboratory testing. CMS used this payment data to establish what Medicare will pay for lab tests. Unfortunately, due to significant data integrity concerns, COLA urged CMS to validate the data collected before proceeding to finalize new payment rates.


John T. Daly, MD, COLA.

“I am deeply worried about the impact of these rate cuts on the elderly access to lab testing in rural communities,” says John T. Daly, MD, chief medical officer of COLA. “There is no question in my mind that access to timely laboratory information will decline, and residents living in rural communities will suffer the most in terms of delays in diagnosis and misdiagnosis. I can only hope we will find a way to change the course of this decision.”

COLA will continue to raise awareness and highlight the importance of near patient laboratory testing to early diagnosis and chronic disease management. To see all of COLA’s findings visit

COLA accredits nearly 8,000 medical laboratories and provides clinical laboratories with a program of education, consultation, and accreditation. The organization is an independent, nonprofit accreditor whose education program and standards enable clinical laboratories and staff to meet the requirements of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) and other regulatory requirements.