New coalition launched to stop Medicare cuts that hurt patients and limit timely access to surgical care
CHICAGO (June 18, 2020): Today the American College of Surgeons (ACS) reinforced its commitment to protect surgical patients, improve their quality of life, and ensure access to—and choice of—surgical care by announcing it joined the Surgical Care Coalition (SCC) as a founding member. As a member of this group, the ACS will support the coalition’s effort to work with Congress to stop planned cuts to Medicare payments that would limit surgical patients’ access to quality care and the timely delivery of services in one of our most vulnerable populations.
ACS strongly opposes these cuts, planned by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which will reduce payments for surgical care, taking effect in January 2021. These cuts would inflict instability in the health care system, leaving surgeons with little choice other than to treat fewer Medicare patients to keep their surgical practices open, thus leading to reduced access to care for older Americans and lowering their quality of life.
With the other 11 founding coalition members, ACS wants Congress to waive Medicare’s budget neutrality requirements to prevent these cuts and require CMS to apply the increased evaluation and management (E/M) adjustment to 10- and 90-day and maternity global code values. These steps will ensure Medicare patients continue to have the best access to the best surgical care when they need it and where they need it.
The Surgical Care Coalition commissioned a recent survey of more than 5,000 surgeons that found surgeons are facing serious financial distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the cuts were announced before the pandemic, the combined impact of the planned CMS cuts and the financial distress due to COVID-19 mean surgeons and hospitals will face difficult decisions to keep surgical practices afloat.
“We strongly oppose these cuts, which would ultimately impact patients’ access, choice, and ability to get the surgical care they need,” said ACS Executive Director, David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS. “ACS is committed to collaborating with the members of the Surgical Care Coalition as the group calls on Congress to work with us in developing a constructive and viable solution.”