American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Bulletin Advocacy Brief: August 26

Urge Congress to Stop Cuts to Medicare Payment

For more than 20 years, Medicare payments have been under pressure from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) anti-inflationary payment policies. While physician services represent a very modest portion of the overall growth in health care costs, they are perennial targets for cuts when policymakers seek to tackle spending.

The Calendar Year (CY) 2021 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) rule finalized by CMS included increases to reimbursement for evaluation and management services, which in turn required decreases to the conversion factor (CF) used in the PFS due to the statutory "budget neutrality" requirement. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 mitigated the impact of the cuts to most surgical specialties by providing a 3.75 percent payment adjustment to all PFS services in 2021. Unfortunately, the CY 2022 PFS Proposed Rule, which is expected to be finalized later this year, does not maintain the 3.75 percent payment adjustment. Resultantly, similar Congressional relief will need to be provided for 2022 and beyond. In addition, physicians face additional Medicare payment cuts stemming from the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 and the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (PAYGO). Taken together, the expiration of the CF increase, BCA sequestration, and the sequestration as triggered by PAYGO amount to a nearly 9 percent cut to Medicare physician payment beginning January 1, 2022.

Take action! Visit SurgeonsVoice and urge your Representatives and Senators to prevent cuts to Medicare payment before the end of the year.

For details, contact Carrie Zlatos, ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at czlatos@facs.org.

Three ACS Leaders Pen Op-Eds in State Newspapers Urging Patients to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

To spread the word about the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine to the public, especially in the face of surging Delta variant infection, last week three ACS leaders wrote op-eds for large newspapers in their respective states. The ACS and the Surgical Care Coalition were instrumental in working with these surgeons in helping to get these op-eds placed.

In Arizona's Arizona Daily Star, ACS Governor Ross F. Goldberg, MD, FACS, said that "When you get the COVID-19 vaccine, you're saving someone else's life."

In Texas' San Antonio-Express News, Ronald M. Stewart, MD, FACS, Medical Director, ACS Trauma Programs, explained, "Masks, vaccines only way residents will truly be free."

In West Virginia's Charleston-Gazette Mail, ACS Governor Bryan K. Richmond, MD, FACS, implored readers, "Don't shut down our hospitals, get the vaccine."

These well-written, locally focused pieces by Drs. Goldberg, Stewart, and Richmond are an important element of the public health education campaign to help motivate vaccine-hesitant individuals, in addition to initiatives like the ACS Talk It Up campaign.