By Kate Madden Yee, AuntMinnie.com staff writer

July 14, 2017 -- The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on July 13 released a proposed rule for the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) for 2018 that includes a 1% cut in payments for radiology services.

The 2018 MPFS will include a conversion factor of $35.9903, a slight increase from the current conversion factor of $35.7551. The change reflects a 0.5% update required by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), a budget neutrality adjustment, and a 0.3% target recapture adjustment, CMS said.

The changes will result in a 1% decrease in radiology payments. Interventional radiology will see a 1% decline -- an improvement over last year's 7% cut. There will be no change to nuclear medicine payments.

CMS announced in the proposed rule that it is now targeting January 2019 for the implementation of clinical decision-support (CDS) reporting based on appropriate use criteria. The agency had originally planned to begin CDS reporting requirements in January 2018, but noted that it received comments that this date would not allow enough time for preparation.

"By proposing the consulting and reporting requirements begin on January 1, 2019, we believe that we are allowing needed time for education and outreach efforts, time for practitioners and stakeholders to prepare, and time for [clinical decision-support mechanisms] to continue ... [to become] more user-friendly and less burdensome," CMS said.

The proposed rule also outlined a payment incentive for the transition from traditional x-ray imaging to digital radiography: Starting in 2018, technical component imaging service payments for traditional x-rays will be cut by 7%; after 2023, this cut will be 10%. To catch these exams, CMS will establish a new modifier to report traditional x-ray imaging, the agency said.


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