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News from the American College of Surgeons

For Immediate Release

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Sally Garneski
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or
Dan Hamilton
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229 members of Congress urge leaders to act to protect patient access to surgical care

More than half the U.S. House of Representatives agree Medicare payment cuts will harm patients by reducing access to surgical care

WASHINGTON, DC (October 20, 2020): Representatives Ami Bera, MD (CA-7); Larry Bucshon, MD, FACS (IN-8); Brendan Boyle (PA-2); George Holding (NC-2); Raul Ruiz, MD (CA-36); Roger Marshall, MD (KS-1); Abby Finkenauer (IA-1); Brad Wenstrup, DPM (OH-2); along with 221 colleagues, sent a letter yesterday to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urging them to protect patients by stopping planned Medicare cuts that will impact physicians across the country.

The bipartisan letter outlines the impact these cuts will have on the health care system and calls for Congress to act and stop them from taking effect on January 1, 2021.

“Payment cuts of this magnitude will surely strain a health care system that is already stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic and could jeopardize patient access to medically necessary services,” write Reps. Bera and Bucshon. “In order to safeguard beneficiaries’ access to care during this pandemic, we as Congress should examine possible bipartisan solutions to address excessively steep cuts. We encourage you to incorporate the resulting policy changes in any upcoming legislation moving through the House.”

Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed a new Medicare Physician Fee Schedule set to take effect on January 1, 2021, which will cut Medicare payments for surgical care by up to nine percent for some specialties. This rule would be harmful without COVID-19 but is especially reckless given the pandemic. It will force surgeons around the country to make tough decisions, such as deciding between keeping their practice open and cutting costs like new staff, Medicare patient intake, and new surgical technologies.

In fact, a recent survey of more than 1,000 members of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) found that nearly one third of surgeons surveyed said they will have to reduce their Medicare patient intake because of the cuts. In addition, one in five surgeons say they may need to stop performing certain procedures to reduce costs as a result of these cuts.

“Now is not the time to cut Medicare payments for any health care providers, which could jeopardize the care of older Americans,” said ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS. “We are grateful to Reps. Bera and Bucshon, who are also physicians, for their leadership and support in ensuring patients continue to have access to surgical care they need.”

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About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 82,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit www.facs.org.