August 2, 2022
The ACS and more than 100 other medical organizations, including members of the Surgical Care Coalition, have united in urging Congress to protect the health of US seniors by stopping proposed Medicare physician payment cuts in 2023. The organizations sent a formal letter July 27 to the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“The Surgical Care Coalition and broader community of healthcare professionals are fighting against these cuts and the continued disinvestment in patient care that jeopardizes patients’ access to critical procedures,” said ACS Executive Director Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, FACS. “While short-term intervention is clearly needed, it is vital that we also identify and advance necessary reforms that create a more robust and reliable Medicare payment system in the long term.”
Understanding the Cuts and Potential Solutions
The US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed a nearly 4.5% cut to the Medicare conversion factor, a key element for calculating Medicare payments. Combined with the pending 4% Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) cut, surgical care reimbursement will be reduced by 8.5% next year. After the 2% sequestration cut that was fully reinstated in July, these reductions undoubtedly will affect access to care for millions of seniors nationwide who rely on the Medicare program for healthcare coverage.
The letter’s cosigners call on Congress to advocate for implementation of at least a 4.5% adjustment to the Medicare conversion factor, waive the 4% statutory PAYGO requirement, and provide a 1-year inflationary update based on the Medicare Economic Index. These efforts would provide the Medicare system with short-term fiscal stability and lay the groundwork for long-term payment reforms.
The cosigners suggest that the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule’s budget neutrality requirement and lack of an annual inflationary update are systemic issues that encourage arbitrary cuts to select forms of care.
Read the full letter and use ACS SurgeonsVoice to schedule a meeting with your legislators. Explain why they need to prevent Medicare payment cuts and protect patients’ access to surgical care. The ACS will keep you updated with additional advocacy opportunities in the coming weeks and months.