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Research Letter
Health Care Reform
May 2016

Medicare’s Reimbursement Reduction for Nerve Conduction StudiesEffect on Use and Payments

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 2VA Center for Clinical Management Research, Ann Arbor, Michigan
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(5):697-699. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.0162

To decrease health care costs, Medicare sought to identify overvalued Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes, including those with rapid volume growth, those submitted multiple times, or those submitted in conjunction with other codes.1 The codes for nerve conduction studies (NCS) met all 3 criteria.2 Electromyography (EMG) should typically be performed with NCS.3 Furthermore, EMG and NCS are part of the core residency training for neurologists and physiatrists but not for other health care professionals (physicians, podiatrists, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants). Medicare implemented a sharp reduction in reimbursement for NCS on January 1, 2013,4 but reimbursement for EMG was not changed. The effect of this policy on providers’ use of services and reimbursement payments for this is unclear.

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