American College of Surgeons calls on Congress to prevent CMS Medicare Physician Fee Schedule from taking effect

Final CMS Rule jeopardizes patient care and ignores impact of pandemic

WASHINGTON (December 1, 2020): The Medicare Physician Fee Schedule released today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will harm patients and further destabilize a health care system already under severe strain from the COVID-19 pandemic. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) calls on Congress to work swiftly to reverse these devastating cuts to protect patients and their providers before they recess for the year.

The finalized rule will cut Medicare payments up to 9 percent for some surgical subspecialties starting on January 1, 2021. A recent survey conducted by the ACS shows these cuts will harm patients by forcing doctors to make extremely difficult decisions like reducing Medicare patient intake, laying off nurses and administrative staff, and not investing in technology.

The ACS urges all members of Congress to join Representatives Ami Bera, MD (CA-7), Larry Bucshon, MD (IN-8), and 54 co-sponsors and support the Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020, which will prevent the Medicare payment cuts from taking place on January 1, 2021. This bill will stop the cuts from going into effect, protect patients’ access to surgical care, and ensure no providers see cuts during a pandemic.

“If implemented, the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule will have drastic consequences for Medicare patients seeking surgical services,” said David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, ACS Executive Director. “Without congressional intervention, these policies will result in significant cuts to physician payment for most surgical services delivered to Medicare patients, exacerbate surgical workforce shortages, and worsen the crisis of rural hospital closures.”

Congress must take action before the end of this year. The ACS, along with the Surgical Care Coalition, will continue to advocate Congress in these final days to stop the Medicare payment cuts and protect patients access to surgical care.

“Surgeons and patients have been advocating against these cuts when CMS initially proposed them. No healthcare providers should be facing cuts, especially during a pandemic,” said Dr. Hoyt. “We strongly urge Congress to support the Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020, which was introduced by Representatives Bera and Bucshon, to ensure patients can access the care they need when and where they need it.”

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