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

ACS Health Care Reform General Principles Summary

1. Quality and Safety

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) has a multi-faceted approach to enhancing quality and safety in health care worldwide. The cornerstones of the ACS work focuses on our model of setting standards, building the delivery infrastructure to enable the standards, using clinical registries to measure performance and guide improvement and assuring the public with peer-reviewed verification programs. Our educational efforts drive quality improvement and safety and support the surgeon’s lifelong learning needs to optimally serve their patients. To this end, the ACS supports well-designed clinical-comparative effectiveness research, physician quality data, and appropriate public reporting, and encourages realistic health information technology (HIT) use and adoption.

2. Patient Access to Surgical Care

The ACS has a long-standing policy supporting universal access to affordable, high-quality surgical care delivered in a timely and appropriate manner and to serve all with skill and fidelity. In order to achieve this goal, a well-trained surgical workforce must be available to the nation to meet the full spectrum of needs patients have for surgical specialist care, including children’s surgical specialists. The ACS continues to believe that the ongoing, broad health care reform initiative will require ongoing efforts directed at reform of the health insurance industry to include addressing issues of cost containment, adequate coverage for the poor and those with pre-existing conditions, as well as the reduction in administrative overhead.

3. Reduction of Health Care Costs

The ACS surgical quality programs improve surgical care and cut costs by helping to prevent inefficiencies and preventable complications through the continuous improvement process. We also have supported quality-based payment reform. 

The ACS supports the voluntary participation in the development and testing of alternative payment models. All alternative payment models should ensure a sustainable surgical workforce by providing fair and appropriate reimbursement for surgeons. Cost containment should be linked to improvements in care. If implemented, participation in shared savings programs should be voluntary, nonpunitive, and not unduly restrict patient choice.

The ACS also strongly believes that creation of Medicare payment policy should remain a primary responsibility of Congress rather than delegating it to the hands of an unelected, governmental body with minimal input from stakeholders and patients.

4. Medical Liability Reform

The mission of the ACS is to improve the care of the surgical patient, safeguard standards of care, and create an ethical practice environment. The ACS believes our nation’s medical liability system is broken and that it fails both patients and physicians. Because medical liability reform helps to reduce costs to the health care system and improves access to care, the College actively supports: reforms based on safety, quality, and accountability; continued advocacy of traditional reforms, including caps on noneconomic damages; and culture change among hospitals and providers to embrace swift adoption of alternative patient-centered reforms, such as communication and resolution programs.