Monday, July 15, 2019

Very Brief Blog: This Year's Part B and Outpatient Annual Rulemaking: How Late Are They?

Each summer, CMS releases two large packages of proposed rules and policies and pricing for the coming year: the "Physician Fee Schedule Rule" (which includes Part B policies like lab tests) and the "Outpatient Rule" (which includes surgical and non-surgical hospital outpatient services and ASCs.)

Having tracked these rules for 15 years, I usually say they come out July 1, plus or minus five days.  

Let's reset our expectations to mid-July.  In the last four years, these rules have come out between July 8 and 13.  This year, 2019, it's July 15 and they're not out yet, so it's going to be even later than the recent norm. 

When the rules are issued, there are 60 days public comment, and the rules are finalized by November 1.   This means that the later the rules come out in July, the further into September the comment deadline runs, and the fewer weeks CMS has left to turnaround the revised and final rules during October.  

Here are recent dates for first release "inspection copy" rules:
  • July 8, 2015 (for CY2016).  Here.
  • July 8, 2016 (for CY2017).  Here.
  • July 13, 2017 (for CY2018).  Here.
  • July 12, 2018 (for CY2019).  Here.
Where To Look It Up Yourself

Federal Register has a dedicated webpage for each agency, the one for CMS is here.  This webpage shows both recent published Federal Register rules and the latest "inspection copy" rules, a typed version which appears ahead of the typeset Federal Register version. 


Often it is rumored CMS releases rules on Friday nights.  While CMS does definitely save some items for Friday night releases, only the July 8, 2016 rule was  Friday night, of the four examples here.