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Laboratory fees face cut

State auditors say testing costs are too high and should be trimmed by 7.5% to save Assurance Maladie €220m

MEDICAL laboratories have been told their tariffs should be cut by 7.5% as the Cour des Comptes state audit body says they cost too much.

Auditors called for the tariff for biological tests to be cut by 7.5% in a move that would cut labs’ business by €316million and save Assurance Maladie around €220m a year.

The Senate social affairs committee had asked the Cour des Comptes to look at laboratory costs as a way to cut the Assurance Maladie deficit.

François Blanchecotte, of the Syndicat des Biologistes, one of the three groups representing laboratories, said that the move had surprised them as they thought they were close to finalising a new agreement with Assurance Maladie that would have seen a 0.5% rise in expenses in the next three years.

However, the auditors said that there had been vast increases in the number of certain tests that were carried out – such as for vitamin D, which had increased 60% in 10 years – and multiple repeat tests being ordered.

Mr Blanchecotte said that the move could threaten 8,000 jobs as it could mean that laboratories in rural areas would become uneconomical.

Hospital doctors were also told to help cut cost by avoiding asking for new laboratory tests when the patient had already had the same tests done. The Cour des Comptes said this could save up to €300m if even 15% of tests were avoided.

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