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Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

The gap between what hospitals and physician offices were paid by fee-for-service Medicare for outpatient cardiovascular tests increased between 2005 and 2015, as did the proportion of these tests that took place in hospitals, according to a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Between the lines: When payment rates depended on where the tests were performed, there was a shift in volume toward the more expensive location.

  • The same didn't happen within a comparison group of 3 health maintenance organizations, for which reimbursement wasn't tied to the testing location.

By the numbers: Traditional Medicare paid hospitals 1.05 times more than doctors' offices for testing in 2005. This increased to 2.32 times more in 2015.

  • Meanwhile, the proportion of hospital-based testing increased from 21.1% in 2008 to 43.2% in 2015. In the control group, the proportion decreased from 16.6% to 15.2%.
  • This shift to the hospital setting cost an estimated $661 million in 2015.

Why it matters: Hospitals have fought fiercely against measures to create site-neutral payments, which the Trump administration proposed last year. The rule was recently overturned in court.

  • Advocates of site-neutral payments say they save taxpayers and seniors money.
  • "Site-neutral payments may offer an incentive for testing to be performed in the more efficient location," the authors of the study write.

Go deeper: Why Medicare is going after hospital outpatient rates

Go deeper

Updated 27 mins ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.